When John Giuca was convicted of murder in 2005 and sentenced to 25 years in prison, his mother was unconvinced. The evidence was weak, perhaps politically motivated and she was sure her son was getting railroaded. So he did what every mother would do: she went undercover.
Ms. [Doreen] Giuliano is the mother of John Giuca, a Brooklyn man who was convicted three years ago along with another man in the 2003 killing of Mark Fisher, a college student from New Jersey who was found beaten and shot five times after a night out in New York City. Ms. Giuliano claims her son is innocent and has mounted an unstinting campaign to free him from prison
She recently gave an interview to Vanity Fair, describing the last two years of her life and “the sting” that she performed to bring down one of the jurors in her son’s trial.
It went like this for a long time, Doreen in a daze, doing what needed to be done and feeling hopeless. Then, one day in early 2006, Doreen awoke from her stupor. The jurors, she told herself. Find something on the jurors. It was a desperate thought. She’d watched television cop shows: if you prove a juror engaged in misconduct, it could overturn the case. She obtained the jury sheet, which listed the names and neighborhoods of the jurors. She got her hands on a transcript of the voir dire, the pre-trial review of potential jurors’ fitness to serve on a case. She even managed, through a contact, to come up with a list of some of the jurors’ addresses.
She started trailing jurors, finding out where they lived or work, tried to get close to them. The first two were duds. Then she happened upon Jason Allo, who, she remembered, seemed familiar to a family friend during the trial. After tracking him for a few months, like the others, she decided to take the plunge and go head in:
“Enough,” she told herself. “I have to move on this guy.” First, she needed to transform her appearance, because Allo might recognize her from the courtroom or from her days tracking him. She went to a tanning salon, got much too dark for her Irish skin. She worked out at a gym, rode her bicycle everywhere she went. She gathered a new wardrobe. “Sexy clothes only,” she says. Short-shorts, tight blouses, push-up bras. She dyed her hair gilded blond.
She went to an espionage-supply store in Manhattan and bought the most expensive kind of hidden recording device she could find. She created a fake ID, set up a fake cell-phone account, rented an apartment
Then she became friendly with Jason, smoking weed with him, flirting with him, getting him drunk and cooking him meals. During all their interactions, she recorded everything he said.
In order to get him to talk, she claimed to be involved with Brooklyn Law School’s Second Look Program (which is real). Slowly but surely, he opened up. He told her he was a juror in a high-profile trial: a murder. He told her that he was the first to decide that Giuca was guilty, and most importantly, that he shouldn’t have been on the jury to begin with:
“I’ll tell you this, but I’d never tell anybody else,” Allo said…“I had some type of information [about the case],” he continued, later adding that he “used to hang out with these guys, not these two exactly. But, like, the clique. I know them since high school.”
“Technically, by law, I shouldn’t have even been in that jury,” Allo said. “Because they ask you in the beginning when you go to jury duty, they read you a list of all the witnesses.… And if you know or are affiliated with these people in any way you have to let them know.” And Allo hadn’t.
In addition, according to Doreen’s affidavit, which attorney Epstein has prepared to file in court, Allo also admitted on tape that he used to hang with members of the Ghetto Mafia (the gang prosecutors contend Giuca belonged to), that Allo’s cousin had dated a woman whose family’s house was used for Ghetto Mafia meetings, and that during the trial this cousin and Allo discussed events related to the case, referring to Giuca as a gang big shot named Slim. “It virtually demands a reversal of the conviction,” says Ezra B. Glaser, a legal adviser to Doreen. “There are New York State and U.S. Supreme Court precedents. He [Allo] knew what he did was improper.”
The standard for getting a new trial based on juror misconduct is clear, but tough. Whether the evidence that Giuca’s defense has now presented meets that standard remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: the criminal justice system should not tolerate convictions where juries consist of people who lie to get on the jury and have affiliations with witnesses.
Giuca may or may not be guilty, but his conviction has now been tainted.
On a side note, there’s this gem in the Vanity Fair article:
Neither Russo [the co-conspirator] nor Giuca gave evidence or testified against the other, behavior indicative of extreme loyalty, ignorance of the events—despite their proximity to the murder—or gang members’ code of silence.
This is just irresponsible reporting. But then again it’s Vanity Fair, so I don’t know if I should be surprised. There’s a more important reason why neither one of them testified or “snitched”: the Constitution. They don’t have to and that cannot be held against them. The burden of proof lies with the State. Learn it, Vanity Fair.