Juror's Facebook posts could affect $2 million jury verdict (UPDATE).

 
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Byline: Erika Strebel, erika.strebel@wislawjournal.com

A $2 million verdict in a federal lawsuit over illegal strip searches may be thrown out, and the entire case may have to be retried.

Willie Newman had alleged in a civil rights suit filed in 2015 that the former Milwaukee police officer Michael Vagnini had illegally strip-searched him in 2010 and that his fellow officers, Jeffrey Cline and Paul Martinez, knew the search was improper and had failed to stop it.

Last month, jurors handed up the $2 million verdict against the officers.

But now the city's lawyers are questioning the validity of that verdict because of a juror's Facebook posts, asking Federal District Judge J.P. Stadtmueller to question the jurors under oath, according to court filings first reported on by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The city says the jury may have been improperly influenced by outside evidence. That conclusion was reached in part from a review of jurors' public Facebook posts. The review found that one juror had discussed the case with a third party and researched awards for damages in similar trials after being sworn in and before jury deliberations began.

After the verdict, the juror also agreed with a Facebook follower, C.M., that because of his research and knowledge of psychology, the juror might be a Supreme Court justice one day, according to court documents.

C.M. had posted that the juror "researched the payouts of similar cases" and had "a psychology background and can tell when people are b.s.ing."

Also, during jury deliberations, the same juror posted a Facebook...

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