Albion Monitor /News

Possible Mistrial in Bear Lincoln Case

by Nicholas Wilson

on "Bear" Lincoln Case

Previous update on case

UKIAH, CA -- Possible jury tampering by a sheriff's deputy was revealed in the Bear Lincoln case yesterday, Monday, June 23, as a potential juror told Superior Court Judge John Golden that while waiting in the hallway to be called, a deputy told him that Lincoln had confessed to killing Deputy "Bob" Davis, but not to say who told him. The judge had the bailiff call the deputies into the shocked courtroom, and the juror identified Deputy Van Camp as responsible.

Cyndi Pickett, widow of Leonard "Acorn" Peters, said, "I watched all the color drain from Van Camp's face as the juror identified him."

An obviously angry Judge Golden said, "These are intolerable influences" as an outraged defense attorney Tony Serra promised to call for a mistrial, or at least sanctions, for the apparent attempt to tamper with the jury. When Serra raised the question of a mistrial, Deputy D.A. Aaron Williams reportedly said that if the allegations were true, he would have no choice but to support it.

Because the incident took place at about 6 PM, the judge ordered Deputy Van Camp to appear in court early this morning. A brief hearing was held in closed session, and a full hearing is scheduled for Thursday. Judge Golden said he preferred the hearing be closed to the public, but the defense cited law supporting allowing the public into the hearing and all stages of the trial, including jury selection.

The public, press, and Lincoln family members were excluded from the courtroom for the morning portion of yesterday's jury selection because of lack of seating space. The judge also had refused a defense request to allow closed circuit video to the hallway or another courtroom. The public was admitted to the afternoon proceedings when seats became available due to jurors being excused.

In any case, the trial will be delayed for up to a month. Because nearly 40 members of the jury panel were excused yesterday, leaving only a few more than 50, there are not enough remaining to proceed. Each side has about 26 peremptory challenges, all the remaining panel could potentially be eliminated. The court will now have to add more members to the panel by resuming the previous stage of jury selection, called Hovey voir dire, where individuals from a pool of candidates are questioned about race, alcohol, guns, police, the death penalty, and previous knowledge about the case. The remaining members of the jury panel were told to return to court July 16, when the final stage of jury selection will resume.

In another development, the defense appeal of Judge Golden's blanket gag order was denied by the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco today. Sources said the defense was surprised at the denial, but will immediately take an appeal to the California Supreme Court. The gag order bars all participants from making any statements or comments about the case outside the courtroom.

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Albion Monitor June 24, 1997 (

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