By: Geoff Mulvihill, Associated Press Writer
(AP) A magazine reporter was found in contempt of court Tuesday for violating a judge’s order that barred the media from talking to jurors in the murder trial of a rabbi.
Carol Saline, a staff writer at Philadelphia Magazine, could be sentenced to six months in jail and fined $1,000 for intentionally approaching a juror on Nov. 9 and asking him questions, Superior Court Judge Theodore Z. Davis said. No sentencing date was scheduled.
Saline did not speak during the hearing before Davis and would not comment afterward. Saline’s lawyer argued that she acted inadvertently.
Davis’ ruling sets the stage for hearings next month for four Philadelphia Inquirer reporters also accused of violating Superior Court Judge Linda G. Baxter’s order during the trial of Rabbi Fred J. Neulander.
The rabbi is accused of arranging the killing of his wife, Carol, in 1994. Baxter declared a mistrial on Nov. 13 after jurors said they could not agree on a verdict despite more than 40 hours of deliberations.
Neulander will face a retrial. His lawyers are attempting to have capital murder charges dismissed to avoid a possible death sentence.
The incident involving Saline happened a day after the jury first indicated it might be deadlocked.
One juror told the judge Saline approached him outside the courthouse and asked if he or other jurors would submit to interviews after the case was over.
“She was willing to take the shot because I guess getting the story is a little more important than the orderly judicial process of determining the guilt or innocence of the person,” Davis said.
However, Loren Feldman, editor of Philadelphia Magazine, said Saline was not writing about the trial. “No one can have any doubt about her intentions,” Feldman said.
Baxter’s order against talking to jurors also prohibited publishing jurors’ identities or contacting them even after the trial. The judge cited the possible effect of publicity on potential jurors in the second trial.
The Inquirer reporters are accused of violating the order against publishing jurors’ names. They are scheduled to appear in court Feb. 25.
The Inquirer‘s publisher, Philadelphia Newspapers Inc., has appealed parts of the order itself.