Saturday, January 17, 2009

Judge dismisses defense lawyer from jury duty in Florida Turnpike slaying trial


Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Thursday, January 15, 2009

WEST PALM BEACH — Potential juror No. 14 sat impassively in the jury box Thursday as U.S. District Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley called the names of people dismissed from serving in the death-penalty trial involving the slayings of a family of four along Florida's Turnpike.

When Richard Lubin didn't hear his name, his eyes widened beneath his glasses for a moment. But he kept his gaze forward, never looking at Assistant U.S. Attorney John Kastrenakes.

Lubin, a prominent criminal defense attorney, was fewer than 18 hours away from meeting Kastrenakes in a courtroom for another of the prosecutor's big cases - the corruption charges against disgraced former County Commissioner Mary McCarty and her husband, Kevin.

"I admit, this is an unusual situation," Hurley told attorneys on both sides of the case.

When Hurley questioned Lubin away from the other potential jurors, the defense attorney promised he could keep jury service separate from his representation of Kevin McCarty.

Still, Kastrenakes immediately asked the judge to dismiss Lubin.

"It's absolutely against every bone in my body to have contact with a juror," Kastrenakes told the judge. "This just looks wrong. And it is wrong."

Defense Attorney Donnie Murrell disagreed. "I've known Mr. Lubin for 30 years, and if he says he can do it, then he can."

After Hurley sent Lubin home, he told the lawyers that the plea negotiation in the McCarty case would put both Kastrenakes and Lubin at risk of appearing to curry favor from one another.

Over defense objections, Hurley dismissed Lubin as a juror.

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