- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A juror who disappeared during deliberations in the trial of Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska admitted in court Monday that she lied about her father dying to get out of further jury duty.

Instead, Marian Hinnant, 52, decided to attend the Breeders’ Cup horse race in Arcadia, Calif. The judge on Monday dismissed her without imposing a penalty.

“I worked in the horse industry,” Ms. Hinnant of Northeast said in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. She said she bought the tickets to the race before the trial began.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan delayed deliberations after Ms. Hinnant said on Oct. 23 that she had to fly to California because her father died. The judge replaced her with an alternate juror when she did not return phone calls from the court.

The jury on Oct. 27 convicted Stevens, a Republican, on seven felony counts of making false statements on Senate financial-disclosure forms. After the verdict, Judge Sullivan ordered Ms. Hinnant, identified as Juror No. 4, to appear in court to explain her absence.

On Monday, Ms. Hinnant spoke about the Breeders’ Cup; former President Gerald R. Ford’s son, Steven; suspicions that her condominium was bugged; her background in the horse industry in Kentucky; and drugs.

“I’m not the one who was selling the drugs,” she said, with a thick Kentucky accent. “I’m not the one who was doing the drugs.”

Judge Sullivan stopped her and said, “I am thoroughly convinced that you would not have been able to continue to deliberate in this case.”

Federal public defender A.J. Kramer, who is representing Ms. Hinnant, told the judge that his client’s “state of mind” compelled her to leave for California suddenly. “The story about her father was one that she said popped into her mind,” he said. Ms. Hinnant’s father is alive.

The judge could have imposed a fine or put her in jail for contempt of court.

As she left the courthouse, Ms. Hinnant said, “I didn’t feel any pressure to leave” the deliberations.

Ms. Hinnant said Stevens’ actions in failing to disclose $250,000 in home remodeling and other gifts from a corporate donor were no different from the misdeeds of many other politicians.

“He was guilty, but these other ones are just as guilty,” she said.

She said the deliberations stalled when one panelist, identified by the court as Juror No. 9, became uncooperative. “There was one lady in the room that was always mad,” she said.

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