Indian-American fashion designer Anand Jon, convicted of sexually assaulting aspiring models, is seeking a new trial because prosecutors stopped a juror who apparently tried to meet with his sister before a verdict was reached.
Although all motions concerning the proposed meeting are under seal, the story came out on Friday in the court of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David S Wesley, who said he will hear evidence to determine whether the juror's-and prosecutors'-actions warrant a mistrial, according to media reports.
"At this point, nobody is immune from being called to the stand and explain what happened," Wesley was cited as saying.
According to comments made by Wesley and Jon's defence attorneys, during deliberations, a male juror contacted a defence investigator to set up a meeting with Alexander's sister at a Starbucks coffee shop, MSNBC said.
A defence investigator put a recording device on Alexander's sister and sent her to the Starbucks, but the juror was "intercepted" by District Attorney investigators before the meeting could take place. It was unclear how prosecutors learned of the proposed meeting.
Deputy District Attorney Mara Mcllvain had no comment and a spokesperson for the District Attorney's Office said there would be no comment since the matter is under seal, MSNBC said.
Defence attorney Ronald Richards, who was retained by Alexander for post-conviction matters, was quoted as saying he will request that Wesley subpoena all e-mails and messages within the District Attorney's Office regarding the decision to stop the juror before the meeting.
"This was a highly unusual series of events," Richards said outside court. "During deliberations, there were these contacts. The DA's office thwarted the defence's ability to get to the truth. We don't know how high up (in the prosecutor's office) it goes."
Defence lawyers on Friday also asked that the judge allow them to interview the juror. Wesley told his clerk to reach the juror and ask whether he wanted to be contacted by one of Alexander's attorneys, and to inform the panelist that he has the right to have an attorney present if he agrees to be interviewed.
Despite the flap, Wesley set a date to sentence Jon April 1, but it is likely the day will be taken up by the motions under seal, the judge indicated.
Jon, 35, who worked with such celebrities as Paris Hilton, Michelle Rodriguez and Mary J Blige, and appeared on "America's Next Top Model" in 2003, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.