Andrew Fahie leaving courthouse in Miami
Former premier Andrew Fahie leaves the courthouse in Miami after the fourth day of his drug-trafficking trial on Thursday. He has maintained his innocence. (Photo: JASON SMITH)

United States attorneys who led the recent prosecution of former premier Andrew Fahie on drug-conspiracy charges are open to the idea of an inquiry into last month’s contested guilty verdict, but their proposed investigation differs markedly from what the defence has in mind.

Judge Kathleen Williams is slated to hold a hearing today to discuss what to do after two jurors expressed concerns about the verdict minutes after the trial ended on Feb. 8.

Initially, the jury unanimously found the former premier guilty of four charges: conspiracy to import more than five kilograms of cocaine into the US, conspiracy to engage in money laundering, attempted money laundering, and foreign travel in aid of racketeering.

However, minutes after the trial ended, two jurors told court staff that the published verdicts on some of the counts hadn’t been their verdicts, lead defence attorney Theresa Van Vliet wrote in a Feb. 13 legal filing. She added that she did not know which counts were disputed.

On Feb. 15, Ms. Van Vliet argued that the judge should invite the two jurors — a man and a woman — back to court to individually question them, or barring that, ask the entire jury to return to be re-polled.

Depending on what is revealed in the re-polling, she stated, she may ask Ms. Williams to declare a mistrial.

Prosecutors’ position

Prosecutors, on the other hand, want to see the verdict stand.

In a motion filed last Thursday, they said that precedent requires the jury’s verdict, which must be unanimous to secure a conviction, should “remain respected and undisturbed.”

If the judge decides an inquiry is needed, they added, it should be limited to the foreperson — and not include the two jurors who expressed concern.

Prosecutors also asked that any inquiry be limited to a single question: “Are there any mistakes on the verdict form” submitted to the court on Feb. 8?

“Should the foreperson respond that the verdict form does not contain any mistakes, the court should end its inquiry and the jury’s verdict must remain respected and undisturbed,” prosecutors argued.

Their motion cited provisions in the Federal Rules of Evidence that they said allow jurors participating in post-verdict inquiries to testify about only three circumstances.

“A juror may only testify about whether: (A) extraneous prejudicial information was improperly brought to the jury’s attention; (B) an outside influence was improperly brought to bear on any juror; or (C) a mistake was made in entering the verdict on the verdict form,” the motion stated.

Defence’s position

Ms. Van Vliet, however, has said the defence is not seeking a “far-flung inquiry” of jurors.

“Rather, we seek limited inquiry to define the parameters of the issue so that everyone can form reasoned, fact-based proposals for a path going forward,” she wrote in a Feb. 15 filing.

The lawyer argued that the re-polling should include the two jurors who expressed concern — or, alternately, the entire jury.

“It is abundantly clear that that procedure would not impermissibly intrude into the jury’s internal thought processes or its deliberations any more than the same procedure did when this jury was polled in the first instance before discharge,” she wrote.

Ms. Williams has yet to rule on either side’s motion.

Pending sentencing

Mr. Fahie remains an inmate of Federal Detention Center Miami and was previously scheduled to be sentenced on April 29. However, given the remaining questions over the jury’s verdict, it remains unclear if the hearing will proceed as scheduled.

If the verdicts stand, Mr. Fahie could face a minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison for the importation charge.

During his trial, prosecutors alleged that Mr. Fahie agreed to allow undercover operatives working for the US Drug Enforcement Administration to use VI waters to traffic thousands of kilograms of cocaine.

In exchange, they said, he expected to receive an initial $500,000 in cash and a cut of the proceeds from future drug sales.

Ms. Van Vliet repeatedly questioned the narrative that Mr. Fahie was engaging in illegal activity, arguing instead that he had an “earnestly held belief ” that the United Kingdom government had sent an operative as part of an attempt to remove him from office.