Gavel (standing image)

To the editor — Yakima County Superior Court recently concluded the murder trial of Anthony Mallory who stabbed and killed Michael Ochoa, but it took two trials for justice to be served. That’s because Judge Gayle Harthcock had to declare a mistrial on March 9 because of misconduct by one juror who blatantly ignored the judge’s repeated instructions to only consider evidence received in the courtroom. This juror investigated the murder outside the courtroom and attempted to influence the other jurors during jury deliberations. On March 28, the YH-R published a “guest opinion” by Judge Richard Bartheld and Judge Blaine Gibson regarding the consequences of juror misconduct. The mistrial cost taxpayers $40,000+ and the value of two weeks’ time by the other jurors. Presumably, the second trial cost a similar amount and further delayed the court system that has a substantial backlog of pending cases. I am concerned that neither County Prosecutor Joe Brusic nor any of the three Superior Court judges mentioned punishment for the offending juror, who should be charged with contempt of court and fined an amount equivalent to a serious traffic infraction ($500-$1,000). A monetary penalty would be an incentive to future jurors to follow the judge’s instructions.