Cop Gives Jurors Mints: Is That a Mistrial?

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on June 09, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

There was almost a mistrial over mints in the Michael Crawford trial in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Crawford is the estranged brother of Linda Thompson, mayor of Harrisburg. He is standing on trial for fraud.

Danny Fiber, a police witness and lead investigator in the case, had been called to testify. When the judge and the two attorneys were in a private sidebar going over some evidentiary issues, Fiber pulled out a can of Altoids, reports the Sentinel Reporter.

Fiber said that a juror spotted his mints, and then gave him an "up nod," according to the Sentinel Reporter.

Instead of handing off a mint to the interested juror, Fiber gave the entire tin of mints to him. The container was passed around in the jury box, reports the Sentinel Reporter. Approximately eight or more jurors ate a mint, according to Crawford, who viewed the entire incident.

Crawford said that no juror specifically asked for a mint. Fiber just offered up his Altoids, according to the Sentinel Reporter.

Crawford's attorney then called for a mistrial because he felt that it was improper for Fiber to interact with the jury in any way, reports the Sentinel Reporter. The judge dismissed the motion, though he did agree that Fiber probably should have just ignored the juror's request.

Mistrials are trials that essentially have to be "re-done" for one reason or another.

Though, a mistrial over mints probably would have been a first. Mistrials normally are due to other reasons. Like when a juror, who is usually specifically instructed not to look up outside information about the case, goes ahead and looks something up.

For now, the Michael Crawford trial continues on, despite the near-mistrial over mints. And now, Officer Fiber has learned his lesson: keep your mints to yourself.

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