Juror: 3 of us vs. 9 of them

Juror Shirley Griffin says she knew good and well that three judges and a lawyer accused of bribery were innocent and no amount of guff from fellow jurors was going to change her mind.

“I wasn’t going to find nobody guilty,” Griffin said Friday, the end of nearly six days of jury deliberations in the federal judicial bribery trial.

“There was three of us, me and the two white people. We got dogged by the others, but we stayed together. We had a struggle. You just can’t imagine what we went through in there. But you can’t make me see something I don’t see.”

Griffin, 64, a part-time hospital secretary from Bolton, was one of 12 jurors deciding the fate of Biloxi lawyer Paul Minor and three judges he was accused of bribing, including state Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz Jr.

The jury on Friday cleared Diaz of all charges, but couldn’t reach a verdict on most of the charges against the other defendants.

Griffin said the jury pretty promptly decided, unanimously, that Diaz was innocent. But she said nine jurors wanted to convict the others.

Griffin said things got a little nasty as she and two others held their ground.

“(Another juror), when she wouldn’t sign that racketeering count, I thought they wanted to whoop her,” Griffin said.

“At one point, somebody come across the table. That’s when one of the deputies came in and said, ‘We ain’t gonna have any of that in here.’

“I heard from the defense and the government for three months,” Griffin said. “I saw no intent. All that stuff the government brought back there was trash, all them boxes full of papers.

“What’s wrong with helping a judge?” Griffin said. “They were all friends. It was (Paul Minor’s) money, not the government’s money. It’s his business what he does with it. (Minor) has done a lot of good things. I don’t know him but I know of him, and he’s done a lot of good. And his daddy used to have articles in the paper.”

Of one of her fellow holdouts, Griffin said, “They dogged her so bad, it got ridiculous.”

“But then last night she said, ‘I’m fixing to put an end to this.’ She wrote a note to the judge, the one he got (Friday) morning. I think that note’s what turned it around, ended all this mess.”

Griffin said others tried to prevent the woman sending the note to the judge, but that she banged on the door and got it to a marshal.

Griffin said she was praying for the defendants.

“From the first day (of deliberations), I could have taken that pad and wrote not guilty all the way down it,” she said. “I just saw it was Paul Minor helping his friends. That’s the way I saw it.”

Sun Herald
8/13/5