Child molester Allan B. Hadfield's nervousness and lack of spontaneity on the witness stand hurt him in the eyes of his jurors and may have contributed to the guilty verdict, according to Hadfield's defense attorney.
"He was not nearly as good under oath as he had been in pretrial interviews," defense attorney Brad Rich said of Hadfield. "The fear decreased his level of spontaneity."Rich had occasion to reflect on the Hadfield case Monday following 4th District Judge Cullen Y. Christensen's refusal to grant Hadfield a new trial. Christensen denied the defense motion for a new trial and rejected allegations that jurors considered extraneous material and bullied a lone dissenter into reaching a guilty verdict.
Rich said he was disappointed, although he admitted he was fighting an uphill battle in his attempt to undo the jury verdict.
"One of the sad rules is that generally there is very little one can do to rethink a jury's decision, no matter how unfortunate it is," said Rich. "A judge just isn't going to invade the territory of the jury."
Robert N. Parrish, the assistant Utah attorney general who prosecuted the case, said he couldn't help but be pleased with the ruling because the judge largely reiterated his contentions in opposing the motion.
"He tracked the argument I made almost word for word, so obviously it wasn't a close call," Parrish said.
Hadfield, 37, was convicted of sexually assaulting his 12-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter. The sensational court case involved allegations that Hadfield was part of a child sex-abuse "ring" in the quiet Lehi neighborhood.
Rich reiterated his surprise about the jury's decision ("Everything but the verdict went our way"), but he acknowledged that Hadfield's testimony was not as convincing as he believed it would be. He said he decided to put Hadfield on the stand because he found innocence to be so apparent during private, pretrial interviews.
Although disappointed in Christensen's ruling, Rich said it had at least one positive aspect. He said it marks the official termination of his involvement in what has been a very difficult and emotionally draining court battle. Los Angeles attorney A. Brent Carruth - who defended convicted swindler Grant C. Affleck several years ago - will take over the case during an anticipated appeal to the Utah Supreme Court.
"This is a case I'm so burned out on that I will gladly turn it over to outside counsel," Rich said.
Rich and Parrish argued the motion for a new trial on April 11. Christensen initially rejected two of the defense arguments, but said he would take a third under advisement and rule later.
That argument involved five charges of jury misconduct. Rich claimed, among other things, that one juror changed his vote to guilty because he did not have the "emotional strength" to resist the coercion of other jurors who wanted a guilty verdict. He also argued the jury considered extraneous information supplied by one juror. He also said the jurors considered Hadfield's "supposed" failure to take a polygraph test.
In essence, Christensen said what went on in the jury room is beyond review in the Hadfield case. But even assuming that the jury deliberations could be considered, Christensen still found no basis to any of the arguments presented by the defense.
On the question of whether the juror was coerced into returning a guilty verdict, Christensen said such information should be considered only if it could be shown that the juror considered extraneous information.
Rich claimed extraneous information was introduced. He claimed one juror later reported that a fellow juror used her personal knowledge to question the expertise of one witness.
Christensen, quoting from a Wyoming case, responded: "If a juror were permitted to testify about what another juror said, it would result in an unwarranted intrusion into jury deliberations."
Rich also claimed that jurors assumed that Hadfield had failed to take a polygraph test and that his failure to do so meant he was guilty. (In fact, Hadfield did take a polygraph test and passed it, but Christensen refused to allow the results into evidence.)
Christensen, however, said the argument was analogous to the claim made by defense attorneys in other cases that jurors improperly took a defendant's refusal to testify as a sign of guilt. He said the Utah Supreme Court rejected that argument and that the same rationale should apply to Hadfield's claim regarding the polygraph evidence.