The federal judge who oversaw Peter Navarro’s criminal contempt of Congress conviction last week will revisit the integrity of the jury deliberations in a rare post-trial hearing Wednesday morning.
Navarro’s attorneys have argued that jurors may have seen political protesters during the deliberations when they took a break outdoors shortly before announcing they had reached a verdict, saying it may be grounds for a mistrial.
A court security officer will be called to testify, according to multiple sources familiar with the situation.
Navarro was convicted Thursday on two counts of contempt of Congress for not complying with a 2022 subpoena issued by the now-disbanded House select committee that investigated January 6, 2021.
Jurors deliberated for just a few hours before reaching the pair of guilty verdicts in the case, but during their deliberations they took a brief break outside the courthouse, a period in which some of them were around a “number” of January 6-related protesters demonstrating and chanting outside of the building, defense attorney Stan Woodward told US District Judge Amit Mehta last week.
“It’s obvious the jury would have heard those protesters,” Woodward said. “It’s impossible for us to know what influence that would have” on their verdict.
One of the prosecutors in the case pushed back on the idea that protesters had been near the jurors during their outdoor break, and Mehta said that he was not aware that protesters were in the park.
The judge also said that the group was accompanied by a court security officer. That officer is expected to testify during Wednesday’s hearing, the sources said.
During their break, jurors walked by an individual with a sign reading, “DEFEND DEMOCRACY.” Other pro- and anti-Navarro protesters were also seen around the courthouse as the trial unfolded Thursday, but it’s unclear whether those protesters were near the jurors or what the jurors saw.
The trial was a quick one, with opening statements starting on Wednesday and the jury returning its verdict the following day. Prosecutors put just three witnesses on the stand, while Navarro’s team declined to call any witnesses during the trial and conducted very little cross-examination of the DOJ witnesses.
Navarro had sought to argue that his refusal to comply with the committee’s subpoena was because former President Donald Trump invoked executive privilege in the matter. But ahead of the trial, Mehta ruled that he couldn’t raise that defense because he hadn’t produced enough evidence showing that the former president had done so.