Juror under investigation for friending, chatting with defendant on Facebook

Juror under investigation for friending, chatting with defendant on Facebook
(Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)
(Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)

(WMC) - Anyone charged with a crime is entitled to a trial by a jury of their peers, not by a jury of their new Facebook friends.

A recent case that is now under investigation has some at 201 Poplar ready to click "unlike."

Marvin Ballin has been practicing law for five decades in Memphis, but the case of the "Facebooking Juror" is a new one to him.

"I've had a couple cases since where I've asked the judge to tell them, 'do not use your cell phones,'" Ballin said. "That's a no-no."

Out on bond, Markelvius Moore was on trial for aggravated robbery when he got a Facebook friend request from a woman sitting on his jury, who then struck up a conversation with him via social media.

Court personnel did not discover the communication until after the verdict, which was a unanimous guilty verdict.

Multiple sources identify the juror as a school teacher. Witnesses say she was handcuffed and led out of the courtroom, but she was not booked into jail or charged with a crime.

Shelby County Sheriff's Office sent a written statement from the county attorney's office. It read, "This matter is under investigation and no information may be released at this time."

Judge James Beasley presided over the case. He declined comment because Moore has yet to be sentenced.

By phone, Moore's attorney, Ed Lenow, said he is still investigating the matter, "It's crazy. I've never had that in 47 years."

"Of all the stories I tell about being down here, I've never heard anybody have a case like that," Ballin added.

Moore is scheduled to be back in court on August 14, at which time the judge will hear arguments over sentencing and any potential motions for a new trial.

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