Lawyers aren't allowed to talk to jurors in Doneghy case, judge says

judge says several don't want to talk

jhewlett@herald-leader.comJuly 23, 2011 

During a hearing Friday, Fayette Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Larson withdrew a request to talk to the jurors who found Glenn Doneghy guilty of manslaughter in the death of Lexington police officer Bryan Durman.

But Fayette Circuit Judge James Ishmael then told defense attorneys and prosecutors that no one would be allowed to talk to the jurors. If a juror called them, Ishmael told the attorneys to say "the court has not given us permission to talk to you," and then thank them for their service.

Before withdrawing the motion for permission to talk to jurors, Larson said the request was not a "malicious attempt" on his office's part concerning a defense motion for a new trial.

"We like to talk to jurors after trial, anyway," Larson said. He said one of the jurors in the Doneghy case had contacted his office.

Ishmael said he had sent a letter to the jurors in the Doneghy case expressing appreciation for their service and telling them the court had been asked about the possibility of attorneys talking to jurors. The judge said he told the jurors they did not have to talk.

Ishmael said he had been contacted by several of the jurors, and most of them indicated that they had served their time and were not interested in talking.

Doneghy, 34, was charged with murder in the April 29, 2010, death of Durman, 27. He was accused of deliberately striking Durman on North Limestone as the officer was investigating a noise complaint.

The jury found Doneghy guilty of second-degree manslaughter and other charges in connection with the case in late June. The jury recommended that Doneghy serve 30 years in prison.

Earlier this month, defense attorney Sally Wasielewski filed a motion for a new trial, saying it was warranted because the jurors were allowed to walk freely in downtown Lexington during a lunch break after their deliberations had begun. She said that was a violation of the rules of criminal procedure.

Defense attorneys asked that the court hold the prosecution's motion for permission to talk to jurors in abeyance until the motion for a new trial was addressed.

Ishmael said Friday he would issue a written opinion on the motion for a new trial after Aug. 2, after attorneys on both sides have submitted written pleadings to the court.

Ishmael also changed the date of Doneghy's sentencing because of schedule conflicts. He is to be sentenced Aug. 26.

Reach Jennifer Hewlett at (859) 231-3308 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3308.

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