- Associated Press - Sunday, May 29, 2016

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - A Tulsa judge has told a private investigator not to criticize the service of jurors who convicted a former Tulsa County reserve deputy in the shooting death of an unarmed man, and to stop contacting jurors who don’t want to be interviewed.

Judge William Musseman said in a May 18 order that the court received calls from three jurors on the panel that convicted Robert Bates of second-degree manslaughter that they were concerned that an investigator was contacting them.

Bates was convicted of the April 2015 shooting death of Eric Harris during a gun-sales sting, and the jury recommended a four-year prison sentence. Sentencing is scheduled for Tuesday.

Musseman’s order said the investigator, who was not identified, was summoned and “made himself available to the court to answer all questions the court had about this matter. The court advised the investigator that he must avoid being critical of jurors’ service and to refrain from follow-up contact with the jurors who have declined to be interviewed.”

Bates’ attorney Clark Brewster told the Tulsa World (https://bit.ly/1VogaRP ) that he asked investigator Rod Baker to interview jurors as he prepares his defense in a federal lawsuit against Bates related to the shooting, a practice he said is common.

“The upshot of it is to try to understand what evidence was important to them for preparation of the defense in the civil case,” Brewster said.

Baker declined to comment on what he had been trying to discuss with jurors, telling the newspaper he operates under state law and regulations “which say we don’t disclose who our clients are or any information that we gain from any particular investigation we might do.”

Assistant District Attorney Kevin Gray said his office did not ask any investigators to talk to jurors after the trial.

Court administrator Vicki Cox said jurors may talk to anyone about a case after a trial concludes, although they are not obligated to.

“It’s something (attorneys) learn in school, that after it’s over, and (jurors) are not under any admonition not to speak about the case,” Cox said.

“Sometimes you can find out about your demeanor, the demeanor of a witness, the demeanor of your client,” Cox said.


Information from: Tulsa World, https://www.tulsaworld.com

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