Steele Jury Foreman Urges New Trial
Sunday, May 23, 1999; Page C08
The deadlocked jury in the Julie Hiatt Steele case voted 9 to 3 to convict her, and special prosecutor Kenneth W. Starr should "seriously consider" retrying the case, the jury foreman said yesterday.
Jack Hawxhurst said the evidence that Steele lied in Starr's investigation of President Clinton was "very persuasive." The trial of Steele -- the only person charged in connection with the White House sex scandal -- ended in a mistrial in U.S. District Court in Alexandria on May 7, and prosecutors have until Tuesday to decide whether to seek a retrial.
The foreman said in an interview that the vote to convict Steele was the same on each of the three charges of obstruction and one count of lying to the FBI.
Hawxhurst is a retired naval officer who works for Vredenburg, a management consulting firm in Reston. "I'm a Republican and somewhat conservative, but I believe I fairly listened and considered the evidence and rendered a fair verdict," he said.
Steele was accused of lying in connection with the case of her longtime friend Kathleen Willey, a former White House volunteer who says she was groped by the president in 1993. The case turned on the question of when Willey told Steele about her alleged encounter with Clinton.
Steele contends she first heard about Willey's alleged encounter in 1997, when Willey asked for corroboration of her story to a Newsweek reporter. Steele corroborated the story but later recanted and said Willey had asked her to lie. But prosecutors say Willey told Steele about the incident the day it allegedly happened.
A juror who voted to acquit Steele, Thomas Brown, said he felt that Willey, the prosecutors' chief witness, had "zero credibility."
"I've met liars before, but this is the first time I've met one with papers to prove it," said Brown, a career civil servant at the Treasury Department, who said Starr's case was "petty and mean-spirited.
"After hearing most of the evidence, I got to thinking this was the government taking the Thursday afternoon bridge club to federal court," Brown said.
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