NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The issue of the Vanderbilt University rape trial transcripts and the potential questions they raise about a possible mistrial played out Friday morning in a brief, but important court hearing.
Worrick Robinson, the defense attorney for former Vanderbilt football player Cory Batey who was convicted of rape in late January, said in a court motion filed Wednesday that “there has been much speculation about the content of the voir dire [jury selection] transcript as it relates to a certain juror and to certain question asked to the prospective jurors.”
Robinson told Judge Monte Watkins in the Friday hearing that “it’s been six weeks” and that he needs “to look at and to review to determine what, if any step we need to move forward in this matter.”
Judge Watkins said he has spoken with the court reporter who is preparing the transcripts and “it is my belief that this transcript will be ready the week of [March 23].”
Defense attorneys have said they would be filing any motions for a new trial before sentencing in the case on April 24.
Robinson did not mention the juror during his courtroom remarks.
Three days after the trial, the defense attorney for ex-Vanderbilt football player Brandon Vandenburg, who was also convicted, said jury foreman Todd Easter should have revealed in jury selection that he was once a sexual assault victim.
Fletcher Long, who stepped down this week as one of Vandenburg’s attorneys, told reporters on January 30 that he would be filing a mistrial motion based on what they had learned about the jury foreman Easter.
“I am confident and have a clear memory that this juror was asked questions during jury selection that should have elicited this information,” Long said in January. “If he was embarrassed about it and did not want to say it in front of other jurors he could have requested in camera with the judge and lawyers and tell us about it.”
Easter’s attorney Sunny Eaton has said that she would not use the language “sexual assault victim” to describe her client.
“That is how it’s being reported. That is not how I would characterize it nor is that how Mr. Easter would characterize it,” said Eaton when the story broke after the trial. “In no way did Mr. Easter misrepresent himself nor did his past situation have any impact upon his deliberations or decision-making in this case.”
One of the attorneys replacing Long as Vandenburg’s attorney was also in court listening to the hearing Friday morning.
Randall Reagan of Knoxville said he met Wednesday with Vanderburg who has been in the Metro Jail since he was convicted.
Two other ex-Vanderbilt players were also charged with raping Vandenburg’s ex-girlfriend in June of 2013 but their trials have not been scheduled.
Prosecutor Roger Moore said after the hearing their cases “will be addressed in due time.”
He added, “One step at a time, we want to get through sentencing and any post-trial issues.”
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