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Panel Racially Split, Ex-Juror Says

Sat., April 8, 1995, midnight

Embellishing on her portrait of a panel riven by racial frictions, a black juror who was removed from the O.J. Simpson murder trial on Wednesday said Friday that a white juror had kicked her while in court and stepped on the foot of a black colleague.

But the discharged juror, Jeanette Harris, backed away from an assertion that the jury may have been tainted because members had prematurely discussed the case among themselves. She said her comments had been misinterpreted.

In another development, Judge Lance A. Ito late Friday rejected an effort by Simpson’s lawyers to mount a wide-ranging challenge on the admissibility of DNA evidence. The judge said the defense had waived its right for a new, separate hearing on the issue when it decided to forgo a similar hearing January. The defense had argued that the waiver was limited only to testing that had been conducted up to that time, and did not cover test results that came in later.

The judge put off a ruling on whether prosecutors may question Kary Mullis, a Nobel prize-winning scientist and a prospective defense witness on his drug use.

Harris, the former juror, said she had sent a note to Ito indicating that there was unusual dissension among the jurors. It was unclear, however, when the complaint was made and what action, if any, was taken. Ito’s office has declined to comment on the matter.

In a television interview, Harris said the white juror who had kicked her was still on the panel, but she declined to identify her. Three of the 12 jurors on the panel are white women.

Harris also complained that Los Angeles county sheriffs’ deputies gave white jurors preferential treatment while on a shopping trip.


 

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