After Dismissal, Jury Quickly Finds Jo Guilty
By Jackie Snyder
On the afternoon of March 3, 2015, the verdict for the Nan-Hui Jo trial was returned. Guilty of parental abduction.
The jury deliberated for a short time, approximately 2.5 hours. On the morning of March 3, 2015, Judge Rosenberg asked that the jury return to the courtroom because an alternate juror was to be sworn in to the existing jury.
Juror number five had been dismissed from the jury because she felt she would not be able to follow the jury instructions. She did not agree with the law pertaining to the case, and felt as though she would not morally be able to come to a decision regarding the verdict.
Once an alternate was sworn in, Judge Rosenberg asked that the jury return to their headquarters to deliberate.
He stated the jurors must start deliberations from the beginning because a new juror essentially means a whole new jury. The jurors were excused to deliberate and had reached a verdict before noon.
A few of Ms. Jo’s supporters, having been camped out at the courthouse for the last few days, were in the courtroom, heads bowed and hands clasped together. Once the verdict was read, tears filled their eyes.
Sentencing was set for April 1, 2015, at 1:30 p.m. in Department 4.
Korean Supporters Outraged by Verdict
By Antoinnette Borbon
The guilty verdict in the state’s case against a Korean woman, who had fled to protect her child, came as a shock to family, friends and members of a solidarity coalition.
The Korean American Women Against Domestic Violence’s solidarity club is an organization that helps support women of Korea against domestic violence and/or abuse of any type.
A spokeswoman for the organization told the Vanguard that she was, “very, very, disappointed in the system and how the district attorney minimized the domestic violence issue, downplaying it. He made the father out to be the victim and he was wrong. We are saddened after hearing this verdict. Mr. Charlton was NOT the victim, Ms. Jo was and it disappointing to hear this,” she stated.
“The domestic violence incidents were rarely mentioned in trial, downplayed, minimized, by the district attorney,” stated another member.
Wearing purple bands around their arms, many members showed up to support Ms. Jo.
Some of the members felt this verdict would send the wrong message to women. They stated, ” We feel let down and worried about women of domestic abuse and what kind of message this sends to victims of domestic violence.”
Another friend said, “It is difficult for Korean women to trust the government here and she felt she was in danger. She felt the only way to protect her child was to leave this country.”
Currently, the little girl is in the custody of her father. It is undetermined if Ms. Jo will get a reduction in charge and/or be deported back to her country once sentenced.
But the Korean coalition said, “We remain hopeful.”
Juror Number Five Explains Why She Removed Herself in Protest of Unjust Law
by David M. Greenwald
Shortly after noon on Tuesday, following the guilty verdict in the case of Nan-Hui Jo for the parental abduction of her daughter, the Vanguard received a call from Denise Hoffner, who was Juror Number Five.
“I was Juror Number Five until yesterday when I told the judge I was not morally able to make a decision in this case because it just went against my moral code,” Ms. Hoffner explained.
When she spoke to Judge Rosenberg he asked why this issue wasn’t brought up in voir dire (jury selection) and whether she was simply someone who could not judge other people, and she told him, “No, [it was] the particulars of this case.”
“There was no testimony put on about anything to do with her immigration status,” she said. “It was like the elephant in the room.”
“I just felt like this woman was not trying to maliciously deprive anybody in the way that we all agree in society the word malicious means, but we were given a jury instruction saying that to find malice, all we had to find was that she intentionally did the act,” Ms. Hoffner stated. “I just felt like it was wrong.”
“The fact is, [it was] like this was a criminal case and they were not even wanting us to formulate whether she had a criminal intent,” she explained. “We really were not looking at criminal intent in any meaningful way – we were instructed not to do it.”
Denise Hoffner said that, when they were deliberating, it was about her perceptions, “that’s what mattered.”
She said that there was no question that there was a domestic violence incident. However, she said, “I don’t necessarily feel that it was a pattern and practice of domestic violence in this case. But she thought there was. And that’s what mattered to me. She was really trying to protect her baby and I think all of us would have done the same thing.”
In her view, “This was just a woman who was frightened and desperate like she had no options. She probably got bad legal advice and I just don’t see how justice was going to be served. Now she’s going to have a felony. She’s at risk of being deported. And this child is in the United States.”
“It shows how our legal system is about retribution and not restorative justice and not forward looking,” she said.
When Denise Hoffner was dismissed on Monday, the jury was instructed this morning to start deliberations with the alternate jury from scratch, meaning that they arrived at the guilty verdict after less than three hours’ deliberations with the alternate.
“I wish I didn’t feel like I would have been out of integrity to stay on that jury, because I wanted to find her not guilty,” she said. But she felt her job was to “look at the facts as they were presented in that courtroom and apply the law, no matter if I think it was unjust and bankrupt.” She decided, “I’m not going to do it.”
For her it came down to “based on the way that law is written. Based on the jury instructions that are attached to the law around malice.” She explained that when she first heard that the case would be determined based on malicious deprivation, she believed it would be a quick acquittal.
She said, “Look at this woman, she couldn’t have done this maliciously.” But then, “we get this definition that we’re supposed to use malice like it’s not used anywhere, why do they even have the word in the statute? Because it wasn’t about malice when we were instructed to decide the case.”
Denise Hoffner was not aware as a juror that there was a previous jury trial, however, she has a fairly good idea of what changed from December’s trial to this one.
She said there were 9 or 10 who thought during deliberations that Ms. Jo was guilty. Two women, however, did not agree. The two of them were of the mind that Ms. Jo did not have the intent to do a wrongful act.
They saw her as desperate about being deported and having her child taken away. “I suspect, in the hung jury, half the people thought that,” she explained. “But one of the jurors on my panel, who thought that she was guilty, said look at the way the law is written, and I think we’re only supposed to look about not whether she had this big macro, wrongful intent, but whether she actually had the intent to just do the act.”
“In other words, that the intent would only go to the (act), it’s not like she was psychotic or unconscious,” Ms. Hoffner explained. “She didn’t accidentally take the child out of the country.”
“There was no way around the fact that she had acted and taken the child out of the country,” she said. “Plus she had withheld the child.”
“I think what happened is that this jury came to the conclusion that even though was this tragic, hard, difficult thing, that the way the statute was written that if we thought that if she intentionally did the act – booked the flight, got on the plane, went to Korea, and then did not contact the family, that she was going to be guilty of abduction,” she said.
She added, “It made me wish I hadn’t gone to law school and that the juror who was parsing the language, wasn’t doing so in such a sophisticated way.”
She said, “I thought, (f-) he is right, I don’t want him to be right, but I believe he’s right.” She said, “I’m suspecting the other jury… they maybe didn’t get into that level of linguistic dissection.”
“Jesse Charlton didn’t bring this case, the prosecution brought this case,” she said, noting that Mr. Charlton’s only interest was having a relationship with his daughter rather than wanting Ms. Jo charged criminally.
—David M. Greenwald reporting