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BHI trial update
------------------Black Hills Institute trial update-----------------
Judge Battey denied a motion to acquit BHI personnel on the 68 charges
that the jury could not decide. The jury had deadlocked at 11-1 for
acquittal on all of these charges. (The defendants were acquitted on
72 other counts and convicted on 13, some felony/some misdemeanor).
Battey's stated reason for denying the acquittals was "a reasonable
jury could have found could have found the defendants guilty on all
of those charges upon which they failed to agree".
Seven angry jurors held a news conference to say that they were
disappointed and disillusioned by the outcome of the case. They
said that if they could decide the case again, they would acquit
the defendants of all charges. Both alternate jurors said that
they would have voted for acquittals.
Random quotes from jurors:
-"They [BHI] are not fraudulent people". They are a good group of guys.
Very good. The gov't. did not prove they were guilty of anything,
-"These guys should not have to go through that again".
-"I wonder if Battey is trying to save face for federal prosecutors".
-"I feel that my intelligence has been insulted and my integrity
challenged".[in reference to Battey's statement that a "reasonable"
jury could have convicted the on the 68 counts that deadlocked 11-1
-"I sat there through the whole prosecution, and I kept waiting for
something to happen". It [the evidence] never came".
The jurors also criticized judge Richard Battey for refusing to order
acquittals on the deadlocked charges.
One juror indicated that the votes for the few felony convictions
may have been an unspoken compromise with the lone holdout juror.
The holdout juror has not come forward to talk about the case.
Another juror mentioned the restrictive instructions issued by Battey
may have caused jurors to disregard key points of the defense arguements,
and thus led to the handful of convictions(mostly technical customs
The jury did not return a single conviction for theft of fossils from
public lands, which was the centerpiece of the prosecution's case.
More recently, the prosecution decided not to retry on the deadlocked
charges. Sentencing is scheduled for sometime this summer. A motion
has been filed to have Battey recuse himself from the sentencing
(ie have some other judge do it due to Battey's prejudice). After the
sentencing will come the appeals on the convictions. Legal observers
speculate that all felony convictions will be overturned on appeal.
Despite attempts to quantify the cost to taxpayers for this fiasco,
the information has not been released by those who have it. Estimates
range from 5-->10 million dollars.
Source: The Rapid City Journal 4-25-1995, 4-27-1995, 4-29-1995