Joaquin Guzman, the Mexican drug lord known as El Chapo, on Tuesday asked a U.S. judge to set aside his conviction for smuggling tons of drugs into the United States and grant a new trial, saying juror misconduct deprived him of his constitutional right to a fair trial.
In a filing with the federal court in Brooklyn, New York, lawyers for Guzman relied heavily on a Feb. 20 report in Vice News where an unnamed juror said at least five fellow jurors violated the trial judge’s orders by following the case in the media during the 11-week trial.
The lawyers said this could have exposed jurors to a flood of information not admitted at trial, including reports based on public court filings that Guzman raped girls as young as 13 years old, that tainted their impartiality. Guzman previously denied the rape allegations.
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“We believe that juror misconduct deprived Joaquin of a fair trial in a case in which the defense was extremely restricted to begin with,” Guzman’s lawyers said in a statement on Tuesday. “We look forward to vindicating his rights in a new trial before a jury that will abide by its oath.”
John Marzulli, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue, whose office prosecuted Guzman, declined to comment.
Guzman, 61, was convicted on Feb. 12 on all 10 counts he faced, after jurors heard evidence from more than 50 prosecution witnesses, offering an unprecedented look at the inner workings of the Sinaloa Cartel.
The defendant faces life in prison at his scheduled June 25 sentencing hearing.