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WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge has arranged for two jurors to get legal help to ensure they are paid by their employers during a lengthy criminal trial of Blackwater security guards.
Four former Blackwater guards have been on trial since June 17 in the shootings of more than 30 Iraqi citizens seven years ago in Baghdad. Jury deliberations began Sept. 2 and are continuing.
In a court proceeding with lawyers from both sides, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth said he had learned that one juror hasn't been paid by her employer since the first two weeks of the trial.
In addition to not paying the woman, the employer "was saying that her insurance was too expensive for him to keep up, and he was thinking about canceling her insurance or moving her to a lesser policy," the judge said, according to a transcript of the brief conference.
Under federal law, employers are forbidden from intimidating or coercing permanent employees regarding their jury service.
Lamberth said he also learned that another juror, a Navy civilian employee, had been told that he would not be paid by his employer during his time as a juror.
"His immediate superior has been giving him a hard time about his continuing to be on leave ... and has told him that he would not be paid for his service," which is contrary to regulations of the Navy and of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the judge said in the conference, which took place Monday.
Lamberth said he appointed an attorney to take whatever action is necessary to protect the rights of the two jurors.
"To the extent that there are continued interference now or threats now, then we'll have to see what occurs," said Lamberth. "I don't propose to take any other action other than assuring the jurors' rights are protected and giving them that piece of mind."
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