Defense attorney files for new trial after alleging ‘improper invasion of jury deliberations’

A trial held in the Nenana Courthouse is being challenged after the court allegedly failed to...
A trial held in the Nenana Courthouse is being challenged after the court allegedly failed to properly secure jury deliberations by broadcasting them over an open phone line. (FILE PHOTO)(John Dougherty/KTVF)
Published: Apr. 6, 2021 at 5:23 PM AKDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The attorney for a Galena man convicted of second degree sexual assault of a minor has filed a motion for a new trial. The motion came after a friend of the defendant reported being able to listen to deliberations over the phone. The Defendant, Mark Huntington, is being represented by attorney, Bill Satterberg.

According to the motion filed in Fairbanks Court, Huntington’s friend was able to listen to the deliberations for around 18 minutes before an unidentified person came into the courtroom and shut off the phone line.

The motion calls this a violation of his client’s constitutional right to a fair trial. The motion cites case law dealing with interruptions of jury deliberations.

The trial, which was held in Nenana, was one of the first in-person trials to be held in the state since COVID-19 precautions went into effect. One of the changes made, for safety, was having the jury deliberate in the courtroom, which has a global phone line for use during court proceedings.

The motion includes an affidavit from the friend of the defendant which states that the friend was listening to the court proceedings over the phone from Galena and when the trial was over went to the bathroom without hanging up the phone. When the friend returned she alleges that she could hear jurors discussing the trial as well as how they were planning to vote. She said she continued to listen to the proceedings for around 18 minutes before she heard footsteps and the phone line go dead.

The District Attorney’s office filed a motion opposing a new trial.

This is a developing story and more information will be posted as it becomes available.

Copyright 2021 KTVF. All rights reserved.