After we published our post on the Hollywood Reporter story, in which Joe Francis said that the "retarded" jury that convicted him earlier this month "should be shot dead," we received an email from one of the 12 not-so-angry people who sat on jury. We followed up with this person by phone to produce the following account of the trial and the response to Francis' insults and allegations.
I've never said anything about this before, but I was on the jury for Joe Francis's recent trial in LA. I thought it was funny when Francis told the NYDN that we were "mentally challenged" but this [Hollywood Reporter interview] is something else. It's a little bizarre to have someone looking into a camera and suggesting you be shot, even if he has no idea what I look like since he never showed up at the trial. If anything, it reaffirms the decision we came to — unanimously, of course, after only about a day and half of deliberations — as one of the charges was directly related to the vague (and no so vague) threats he made against the victim he assaulted to keep her from filing a police report. I'm just thinking about all the nice, salt-of-the-earth people on that jury that Joe Francis is suggesting be shot. There were some older, middle-aged, retired women. There were four middle-aged men. Some women were in their 30's. All different races. I was the youngest.
A lot of the older people on there had no idea who he was. Some of us did, though. During jury selection, Francis’ lawyer Steve Levine asked a pool I was in at one point, “How many people have heard of Joe Francis?” A whole bunch of people, including me, raised our hands. He said, “OK, that’s fine. I’m not going to kick you off for knowing who Joe Francis is. I just want him to get a fair trial.” His own lawyer said that doesn’t disqualify anyone from serving on this jury. We just had to have an open mind, common sense and no conflicts of interest.
Celebrity trials go on forever. I don’t think there was anybody that was jumping up and down to get on this jury, but I don’t think there was anyone who was actively begging to get out of it. There were some people who had genuine conflicts of interest and they were dismissed. I don’t like people that actively try to get out of jury duty. If you like paved roads and you like fresh water, pay your taxes and do jury duty when you are asked. It’s a civic responsibility. I wasn’t trying to get out of it, but I also wasn’t thinking, “Oh my god, I have to do this. It’s going to make my life.”
Unlike Joe, his driver and co-defendant showed up in court everyday. We found him not guilty, but I don’t want that to suggest there was a vendetta against Joe Francis. They told us the first day during the voir dire that Francis wouldn’t be showing up because the court had given him an exemption. Steve Levine asked if we’d hold that against him. He didn’t ask me personally, just other people. I thought, though, that no, I wouldn’t hold that against him. If a court told me I didn’t have to show up, I wouldn’t be showing up or going everyday. If it were a parking ticket or something, my ass wouldn’t be there.
We just chose to rely on the evidence presented and (mostly) on the testimony of three women who described the night as one of the worst in their lives. All three are in their 20's and they had very emotional testimonies. The 911 calls from that night, the several of them, would be harrowing for a lot of people to hear – not necessarily the jurors or people in the courtroom, but people in general. Those were very emotionally charged calls that were not coming from a place of, “I’m just trying to get one over on a celebrity so I can file a civil suit.”
I'm sorry Joe Francis didn't like our decision, but I genuinely hope he takes this as a lesson that his actions do carry actual consequences—for him, for us, and most of all for the woman he assaulted. He could have caused a concussion, and they checked for one at the hospital. I don't expend much energy thinking about Joe Francis either way, although I do believe he's guilty of the crimes we convicted him of and I could live without the whole lined up and shot thing. Honestly, Joe, I wish you the best. Now please stop talking about me.
[Image via Getty]