A lawyer from Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán He urged a US appeals court on Monday to overturn his conviction, citing improper jury conduct and the prison conditions the drug lord was subjected to.
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals The US court in Manhattan appeared receptive to the argument that Guzmán’s trial judge in Brooklyn should have investigated whether jurors improperly followed the case in the media during the trial.
But she was less sympathetic to the claim that Guzmán’s sentence was marred by two and a half years of solitary confinement in the Manhattan Metropolitan Correctional Center, closed since then, which his lawyer Marc Fernich called a “modern dungeon.”
Guzmán, 64, was convicted in February 2019 of trafficking billions of dollars in drugs and conspiring to assassinate enemies, as the leader of the Mexican Sinaloa cartel. He is serving a life sentence at the Colorado Supermax, the safest federal prison, and was ordered to hand over $ 12.7 billion.
Guzman’s appeal centered on a Vice News article where a juror said that at least five members of the body followed media coverage of the trial and lied to US District Judge Brian Cogan.
“You have five jurors who don’t know the meaning of an oath,” Fernich said. “If that doesn’t call for instant investigation, I don’t know what does.”
Federal prosecutor Hiral Mehta responded that courts should not rule out convictions based on anonymous complaints from jurors to online media. “The evidence here is not competent, it just isn’t,” he said.
At least two members of the three-judge appeals panel suggested that was not so clear.
In contrast, the panel questioned why Guzmán did not object more strongly and earlier to the prison conditions that he described in his sentence as “24-hour psychological, emotional and mental torture.”
Guzmán twice escaped from maximum security prisons in Mexico, once hidden in a laundry cart and once by crawling through a tunnel dug into his cell, before being recaptured in a bloody shooting in 2016.