Apparently during the 1987 racketeering trial of John Gotti, an anonymous jury was empaneled. However, one of the members, George Pape, had a connection to one of the defendants and accepted a bribe to return a 'not guilty' verdict.

Initially, most members of the jury apparently were in favor of conviction, but Pape's steadfastness coupled with the personal risks to their own well-being regarding a mob case resulted in the other members of the jury eventually returning a 'not guilty' verdict.

Apparently, Pape was found out and convicted for obstruction of justice around 1992.

Gotti ended up being convicted of several other charges in 1992, however, I am curious if jeopardy would actually attach to the initial racketeering case given the nature of the jury tampering. This answer suggests that tampering with the judge invalidates the attachment of jeopardy; there is the supposition that tampering with the jury also precludes the attachment of jeopardy but it's not clearly stated. Furthermore, would someone need to tamper with the entire jury to preclude jeopardy, or is any tampering sufficient?

Following Pape's conviction, was Gotti susceptible to retrial on the racketeering charges or would jeopardy remain attached because the tampering didn't include the judge?

1 Answer 1


Yes for actual tampering

The key here is the double jeopardy clause. If the jury is truly tampered with from the outside to get a not-guilty verdict, and the tampering can be proven, then the defendant was never in jeopardy at all.

See: People v. Aleman, 667 N.E.2d 615 (Ill. App. 1996): Harry Aleman bribed the judge for a not guilty verdict in a murder trial in 1977. As that came to light around 1990, the prosecution retried him in 1993, which he promptly lost after the trial. He appealed for double jeopardy and the result was, that he was deemed to never have been in jeopardy in the first trial. Aleman appealed to federal court for habeas Corpus in Aleman v. Circuit Court of Cook County, 967 F. Supp. 1022 (N.D. Ill. 1997), which was decided against him. His appeal to the 7th Circuit 138 F.3d 302 (7th Cir. 1998) went just the same. SCOTUS denied Cert. the 7th Circuit said:

Aleman had to endure none of these risks because he "fixed" his case; the Circuit Court found that Aleman was so sanguine about the certainty of his acquittal that he went so far as to tell Vincent Rizza before the trial that jail was "not an option". Aleman may be correct that some risk of conviction still existed after Judge Wilson agreed to fix the case, but it cannot be said that the risk was the sort "traditionally associated" with an impartial criminal justice system.7 See Breed, 421 U.S. at 528, 95 S. Ct. at 1785. It seems only appropriate that a defendant should not be allowed to escape punishment for murder because he bribed the judge. To allow Aleman to profit from his bribery and escape all punishment for the Logan murder would be a perversion of justice, as well as establish an unseemly and dangerous incentive for criminal defendants. The Illinois courts' holdings, therefore, were not contrary to, or unreasonable applications of, federal law as interpreted by the Supreme Court.

For these reasons, we affirm the district court's rejection of the double jeopardy claims contained in Aleman's petition.


For the foregoing reasons, we affirm the district court's denial of Aleman's petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

  • I had cited the Aleman case in my question because it's a clear example of tampering with the judge and a situation whereby that invalidated the double jeopardy clause. But I want to know if there's similar case law for the jury specifically. Feb 27 at 13:59
  • @Pyrotechnical If there was a bribe to ensure not-guilty, then yes, it's jury tampering and he was never in jeopardy. But if there was no jury tampering, the question is still if he was never in jeopardy. If by jury misconduct (e.g. the jury just happened to be stacked with his best friends) he never was in jeppardy, I'd apply Aleman. But if he was in actual jeopardy, Aleman would apply in that there is a bar on a 2nd trial.
    – Trish
    Feb 27 at 17:16

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