Amid public backlash following the Yanez trial, Judge William H. Leary
wrote a letter to the jurors expressing his appreciation for their public
service. The trial in question received an enormous amount of public attention,
putting immense pressure on the jurors, who were required by law to make
their decision based on evidence and facts rather than emotions or public
opinion. After clearing Yanez of manslaughter charges, they received an
enormous amount of criticism. In an effort to thank the jury and provide
reassurance after seeing their commitment to the state’s justice
system, Judge Leary did what few others have done and penned the jurors a letter.
The Jury Acquitted The Defendant
The trial in question sought to determine whether or not Minnesota officer
Jeronimo Yanez was guilty of second-degree manslaughter and two accounts
of reckless discharge of a firearm. Yanez’s actions resulted in
the death of Philando Castile at a traffic stop on July 6 of last year
after he fired a gun at Castile, shooting him 7 times. The case was highly
controversial and well-known, especially because Castile’s girlfriend,
who was in the vehicle during the stop, shared footage of the events following
the incident on Facebook. After 5 days of deliberation, the 12 jurors
The jury was composed of 5 women and 7 men, 2 of which were people of color.
After the jury’s statement was released, a rally took place at the
State Capitol where protesters took a stand against authorities to show
their disapproval of the court decision. In his letter to the jurors,
Judge Leary wrote that their decision “was fully supported by a
fair interpretation of the evidence and the law you were obligated to
apply.” While Judge Leary insisted he would not express his personal
feelings in regards to the trial, he made it clear that he thought the
jury interpreted the evidence fairly.
Our own attorney,
Joe Tamburino, was asked to comment on the Judge’s letter, which many believed
could be considered inappropriate. Tamburino said, “I say hats off
to [Judge Leary] for doing this, because the jury received an inordinate
amount of criticism. The issue was whether the state proved its case,
not greater social issues.”
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Contact Caplan & Tamburino Law Firm, P.A. if you are in need of legal representation or are facing criminal accusations.