Jurors in John Poindexter's Iran-Contra trial returned to the U.S. Courthouse Wednesday and began a third day of deliberations, after spending the night sequestered in a hotel.
U.S. District Court Judge Harold Greene decided to isolate the jury Tuesday after news organizations contacted two jurors.The "irresponsible behavior of the press leaves me no alternative" but to have the jurors "taken by the marshals" to a hotel each night, said Greene.
The panel of eight women and four men is considering five criminal charges against the former national security adviser.
It was disclosed in court that Washington Post reporter Nora Boustany had telephoned juror Leroy Witherspoon at home after Monday's first day of deliberations. Witherspoon said he hung up on her twice.
Juror William Harris said he was contacted Monday evening by a woman identifying herself as a reporter. He hung up and she didn't call back.
"I certainly don't want to have a mistrial," Greene said.
Both jurors will remain on the panel because they "were alert and intelligent and didn't allow" any conversation about the case to take place, said Greene. Poindexter lawyer Richard Beckler said he had no objection to the two jurors staying on the panel.
Washington Post editors instructed Boustany to find out how to get in touch with Witherspoon after the verdict, said Robert Kaiser, the Post's assistant managing editor for national news.
"She did this by calling him up to ask him," said Kaiser, adding that she had made a mistake.
Kaiser said the second juror was not contacted by a Post reporter.
Also on Tuesday, Greene denied jurors' request for copies of 5,000 messages that were deleted from Poindexter's computer system days before he resigned. The messages were preserved on a backup computer tape, and some of them have been admitted as evidence. Many, however, remain highly classified and were not introduced at the trial.