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January 01, 2017

Motion filed over '12th Juror's dismissal to keep Chaka Fattah out of prison

Lawyers for Chaka Fattah are using every legal tool available in an attempt to keep the former U.S. congressman out of prison.

On Friday, Fattah's attorneys filed a motion for bail arguing that he should remain free until an appeals court decides whether to overturn his June convictions for racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering, reports. Fattah, an 11-time U.S. representative of West Philadelphia, is scheduled to report on Jan. 25 to a federal prison where he will serve a 10-year sentence.

The crux of the argument centers on U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III's decision to dismiss a juror who was the lone holdout in eight 11-1 votes to convict Fattah.

"In short, a substantial issue will be presented on appeal whether it was an abuse of discretion for the trial court to question jurors at an early stage of deliberations without good reason to suspect juror misconduct, to intrude on the jury's deliberative process, and then dismiss a juror who had serious doubts about the government's case," the motion reads.

On the second day of deliberations, the jury's foreperson and nine other jurors reported to the court that the so-called "12th Juror" was "argumentative [and] incapable of making decisions."

The next day, a deputy clerk testified under oath that the 12th Juror said "he was going to hang this jury no matter what," prompting the judge to dismiss him.

However, Fattah's lawyers claim the 12th Juror's comment simply meant he did not agree with his fellow jurors and was not convinced prosecutors proved the case against Fattah.

The court gave federal prosecutors until Jan. 4 to respond to the motion.

If granted, Fattah's convictions would be reversed and a new trial could be ordered.

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