The Bahamas politician whose public announcement inspired a judge to declare a mistrial in the $25 million John Travolta extortion case has been ordered to court the morning of Oct. 23.
Senior Justice Anita Allen has summoned Picewell Forbes to explain why he should not be held in contempt of court, the Bahamas-based Tribune reports.
Yesterday, Picewell announced at a political rally that one of the trial's defendants, former Bahamian Sen. Pleasant Bridgewater, had been found not guilty. Although the jury was still deliberating (for nine-plus hours) in closed quarters, Picewell's announcement aired on television and radio -- thus provoking Judge Allen's decision to declare a mistrial. "I am erring on the side of caution," Allen said. "Justice must be transparent."
According to his attorney, Forbes "had no intention of disrupting the legal proceedings and had simply relayed what turned out to be bogus news that he heard on the convention floor," the Tribune states.
Paramedic Tarino Lightbourn and Bridgewater (who also served as Lightbourne's lawyer) both pled not guilty on charges of attempting to extort $25 million from John Travolta. The prosecution accused the pair of demanding money in exchange for not leaking information to the press about the seizure-death of Travolta's son, Jett, in January at their Grand Bahama Island vacation home.
Stressing his client's willingness to cooperate in a future trial, a rep for Travolta told the Associated Press, "We are disappointed to hear about the alleged juror misconduct since we know that the Bahamian government, the court, the other jurors and John Travolta as the victim want to have this matter adjudicated through the judicial system."