Mistrial Declared in Vanderbilt Rape Case

Illustration for article titled Mistrial Declared in Vanderbilt Rape Case

A judge in Nashville, Tennessee has declared a mistrial in the case of two Vanderbilt University football players convicted of rape. Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey were convicted of the rape after portions of the attack on a fellow student were captured on a dorm surveillance video and in cellphone photos taken by Vandenburg. But defense attorneys argued that the two hadn’t been granted a fair trial, because the jury foreman failed to disclose he was raped as a teenager.

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The jury foreman, Todd Easter, did not disclose that when he was 16, his older boyfriend was convicted of statutory rape. Defense attorneys started asking for a mistrial in January. Judge Monte Watkins declared the mistrial on Tuesday afternoon, writing that the Easter’s credibility had been irreparably damaged by his failure to disclose the rape:

Juror # 9’s credibility has been tainted and brought a presumption of bias to the jury. Considering all of the circumstances outlined herein, actual bias has been clearly shown. Our system of justice cannot tolerate a trial with a tainted juror regardless of the strength of the evidence against the defendant.

Easter said he didn’t disclose the incident because he doesn’t consider himself to be a rape victim. Vandenburg and Batey, who were due to be sentenced soon, could be set free, or Watkins could order a new trial.


Contact the author at anna.merlan@jezebel.com.
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Vandenburg entering the courthouse during his trial, November 2014. Image via AP .

DISCUSSION

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Now, I’m not one of those fancy lawyers you see running around these parts.

BUT. It seems like an odd precedent (and a bit unbelievable) to believe that a person is incapable of being unbiased about an event assuming someone related to them was convicted of a similar charge. Is this only a condition for rape cases, or is it the case for ANY crime?

Additionally, wouldn’t it possibly cut the other way? Like, “Oh, this guy’s brother was convicted of statutory rape, which he thinks is bullshit, so he’s going to look EXTRA CLOSELY at the facts because he doesn’t want to send someone away like his brother?”