A juror in the Astor trial has recanted her verdict, giving the defense grounds for appeal. But what was Judi DeMarco—whose "close...personal friendship" with convicted pol Joe Bruno has raised eyebrows—doing on the jury to begin with?
Judi DeMarco, a lawyer for Bloomberg who joined her fellow jurors in the trial of Brooke Astor's son Anthony Marshall in voting to convict him for grand larceny, now says she was intimidated into going along with the verdict, citing threats of gang violence from a female fellow juror. According to the New York Times, DeMarco's claims make "a compelling argument for a new trial" for Marshall.
DeMarco says that during deliberations, Yvonne Fernandez, one of the other jurors, approached her while making "gang signs" during an argument over whether Marshall was guilty on one of 16 counts. DeMarco sent a note to the judge at the time asking to be removed, but he refused, and she says she decided to go along with the the other jurors because she "couldn't take it any longer."
That story might make sense coming from a legal naif who found herself in the middle of a high-profile trial and just wanted to get the ordeal overwith. But DeMarco is no naif: She's a legal analyst for Bloomberg whose previous job was as legislative liaison in New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office. And, according to the Village Voice's Wayne Barrett, she had a notably "close and personal" relationship with one of those legislators she was liaising—former New York Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, who has since been convicted of wire and mail fraud. In fact, according to Barrett, it was Bruno who recommended DeMarco for the $110,000-a-year job in Cuomo's office. DeMarco got a $10,000 raise just four months after she started, even though none of the half dozen state legislators Barrett polled back in 2007 were aware that Cuomo had a staffer who was ostensibly dealing with them. As soon as Bruno was indicted in January 2009, Cuomo laid DeMarco off, and she got a gig at Bloomberg.
Jury selection didn't begin in the Astor trial until March of last year, so DeMarco's history as an apparent crony—and perhaps more—to an indicted political figure should have been clear to attorneys in the case. So it's puzzling that she wouldn't have been bounced by one of the two sides—what defense attorney wants a former staffer in the attorney general's office on their jury? And it's even more puzzling that a sophisticated legal analyst making a six-figure salary would be so stupid as to let jury-room drama
get in the way of rendering a clean verdict. And it's even more puzzling that she would stand by that verdict in an interview with her colleagues at Bloomberg after the trial, as DeMarco did in October, four months before she raised her intimidation claims. What's not surprising, however, given the above, is the fact that DeMarco refused to sign an affidavit laying out her claims for one of Marshall's defense investigators.
To wrap up the bizarre jury-room drama in a nice little bow, Fernandez, the juror who allegedly threatened DeMarco, is a producer for TruTV—formerly known as Court TV. So the two ladies who got into a tiff that threatens to upend the verdict are the two who ought to have been the most familiar with how to behave like adults in a jury room.