While William Cellini's attorney Dan Webb says he will ask for a mistrial based on a disclosure that a juror had two felony convictions that were undisclosed -- not so fast, says the U.S. Attorney's office.
The office just released a statement saying that a felony does not automatically disqualify a juror from serving.
According to federal statute, among the reasons a juror cannot serve: "has a charge pending against him for the commission of, or has been convicted in a State or Federal court of record of, a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one year and his civil rights have not been restored."
However, there is a question - and an expected legal battle - over when someone's "civil rights" have been restored.
The U.S. Attorney's statement:
"An article in today's Chicago Tribune states that 'Federal law generally disqualifies felons from serving on juries.' This statement is off the mark. Federal law disqualifies persons who have been convicted of felonies from serving on juries only so long as their 'civil rights have not been restored.' Under Illinois law, civil rights are automatically restored upon the 'completion of any sentence of imprisonment or upon discharge from probation, conditional discharge or periodic imprisonment.' Thus, a person who has completed his or her sentence on a felony conviction is not disqualified from serving on a federal jury.
We decline to comment on facts specific to the Cellini case because it is appropriate to reserve our comments for the courtroom on matters that could be the subject of litigation. In general, however, federal law appropriately provides great respect for a jury's verdict, and holds that it should not be lightly disturbed."