Jury Rejects Defense Motion for Mistrial in Hollywood Wiretap Case

A federal judge rejected a defense motion Tuesday for a mistrial in the racketeering trial of Hollywood private eye Anthony Pellicano and four co-defendants.

U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer said in her ruling that there was no deliberate attempt by prosecutors to reveal to jurors that former Los Angeles police Sgt. Mark Arneson had been the subject of an internal affairs investigation in 1999.

"I find no deliberate attempt to coerce a compelled statement" from Arneson while he was testifying, Fischer said.

She also found there was no violation of evidence discovery rules, and it was likely an oversight that prosecutors did not provide the evidence to defense attorneys.

Arneson is accused of taking bribes in excess of $180,000 to run names through criminal databases as part of the scheme by Pellicano to dig up dirt to help his clients gain an advantage in legal and other disputes.

All five co-defendants have pleaded not guilty to a variety of charges.

Fischer excused the jury for the day and convened an emergency hearing to determine whether Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Saunders inappropriately questioned Arneson during his testimony last Friday.

Defense attorney Chad Hummel, who represents Arneson, said statements made by his client during the internal affairs investigation were improperly referred to by the prosecutor.

Hummel also claimed the information was not provided to him as a part of the discovery process.

"If he made a statement to internal affairs and prosecutors had it, they had an obligation to produce it," Hummel said outside court.

Such statements cannot be used in a subsequent criminal proceeding, according to a 1967 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Outside the presence of the jury, Hummel said the developments constituted a mandatory mistrial situation.

Following the hearing, Hummel indicated the substance of his motion could be grounds for an appeal if Arneson is later convicted.

Saunders denied any impropriety and said the Los Angeles city attorney's office provided both sides all documents from the 1999 investigation.

He testified during the hearing that he may have erred in bringing up the internal investigation during trial.

"My belief, it was an error in judgment to go into that area," Saunders said. "If I had to do it over again, I probably wouldn't."