This is a partial transcript from "On the Record" with Greta Van Susteren, August 19, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Tonight, can an Illinois defendant convicted of murder by a jury Oprah served on use her talk show as grounds for appeal? Oprah and eleven other jurors sat through a three-day trial and spent two hours deliberating before convicting Deon Coleman of murder. Now there's word the jurors are gearing up for a reunion on Oprah's show.
What's it like to serve on a jury with Oprah? Jury foreman John Fallert and juror Suzanne Goodman join us from Chicago. Welcome both of you.
John, how do you describe your experience on a jury with Oprah Winfrey as a fellow juror?
JOHN FALLERT, SERVED ON JURY WITH OPRAH: Well, to serve on a murder trial is in itself one emotional ride. It's not a pleasure to serve on a murder trial in itself but certainly with Oprah Winfrey that was another emotional ride.
It was a joy to be with her. She's a very pleasurable woman to spend time with. She was very down to earth and very open in sharing her personal experiences with us and opened the group discussion and experiences and just alleviated some of the tension that was in the room.
VAN SUSTEREN: Suzanne, you know, it's hard not to notice how quickly this case was tried in Illinois compared to, for instance, the murder trial in the Peterson case. How many days were you actually at the courthouse from start to finish, from jury selection to verdict?
SUZANNE GOODMAN, SERVED ON JURY WITH OPRAH: OK. We were chosen on Monday. There was probably a couple hours of presenting the case on Monday. We were there all day, most of the day on Tuesday and then it wasn't until later in the afternoon on Wednesday that we went in to make a decision.
VAN SUSTEREN: Suzanne, was Oprah just like any other regular juror, just that she has sort of an unusual job and she's Oprah Winfrey?
GOODMAN: Oprah Winfrey is Oprah Winfrey so, of course, you know, you're always aware of the fact that she's present. She's in the room. However, when we were making our decision it was an individual, it was each individual in the room evaluating the evidence in the case and then we worked as a team to come up with a decision and her vote was the same as everyone else's.
VAN SUSTEREN: John, I understand that a bunch of the jurors are going to get together on her show. Are you going to go?
FALLERT: Yes, I would love to go and be a part of that reunion. I enjoyed the time I spent with the jurors. It will be a pleasure to see all of them again.
VAN SUSTEREN: Suzanne, how about you, you going to go?
GOODMAN: Yes, I'm going to try to go. It's a great group of people and in the time we were together we did bond.
VAN SUSTEREN: John, have you ever served on a jury before, John?
FALLERT: No, I have not.
VAN SUSTEREN: What's your sort of thumbnail thought about our justice system?
FALLERT: It appears to be very fair. It's a difficult situation to be put in but I think everybody needs to step up to the plate when called to serve.
VAN SUSTEREN: And, Suzanne, you in terms of being a juror, I take it that everybody took the job very seriously, is that a fair statement?
GOODMAN: Absolutely, yes we did. We took it very seriously.
VAN SUSTEREN: Did you ever serve on a jury before, Suzanne?
GOODMAN: I have never served on a jury before and none -- all the other jurors were doing it for the first time also.
VAN SUSTEREN: John, were you impressed with the seriousness of purpose of all the jurors?
FALLERT: Yes, I was.
VAN SUSTEREN: And I take it -- well, I take it, John, having Oprah there didn't distract from everyone's individual responsibility, did it?
FALLERT: Not in the least bit.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. John, Suzanne, thank you both very much. We'll watch you when you appear on "Oprah."
FALLERT: Thank you for having us.
GOODMAN: Thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Then the jurors appear on Oprah's show and does it pose a problem for the prosecution? Let's bring back former San Francisco Assistant D.A. Jim Hammer and defense attorney Ted Williams.
Jim, there was a conviction and it's going to be appealed. If all the jurors appear on a talk show with Oprah, I suspect that that somehow is going to be part of the appeal.
HAMMER: Part of the new trial motion and part of the appeal, right. If I were the D.A. in this case, and I did it after almost every murder case I prosecuted, I would encourage the jurors not to talk about the deliberations.
You know it's not over until the appeals are over and, if those jurors happen to reveal something that was improper, some evidence that shouldn't have come in, some reference to an outside source, other things that jurors do incorrectly and they do it on national television, there's going to be a new trial. So, I'd be having a Maalox moment or, you know, a Rolaids moment.
VAN SUSTEREN: Or worse.
HAMMER: Or worse if I were the prosecutor in this case and I really encourage them not to talk about the deliberations.
VAN SUSTEREN: Ted, one of the big fears about having a very dominant personality or even a celebrity on a jury panel is it goes from being a 12-
person decision to a one, that someone exhibits so much influence. By listening to John and Suzanne, I got the sense that Oprah was just one of 12.
WILLIAMS: Oprah could never be one of 12. I think that John and Suzanne may have felt that way but Oprah said it better than I could when she said, "Celebrities should never sit on juries." Now, take this for a fact. All of those jurors went home, Greta, right away and they told Uncle Tanoosh (ph) guess who I was with today, Oprah Winfrey.
VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, you're right. You're right about that. I agree with that.
WILLIAMS: And so...
VAN SUSTEREN: I might have said that. I would have said, "Hey, guess who I saw today, Oprah Winfrey."
WILLIAMS: I always say, hey, I always tell Sidney, "Hey, guess who I saw today, Greta Van Susteren."
HAMMER: And she's tall. And she's tall.
WILLIAMS: And she's tall. I always tell her that.
VAN SUSTEREN: I take my picture with Benji the dog tonight.
WILLIAMS: But, you know, when they get into deliberation or from what I understand there was one holdout over three portions of the deliberations and clearly they had to say, "Well, Oprah, what did you think?" And, Oprah said what she thought and that could very well have had some persuasion on that one holdout juror.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Jim...
WILLIAMS: The bottom line is she would have never sat on my jury.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Jim, the one thing that struck me mostly about this case wasn't so much Oprah Winfrey is that this trial started on Monday and this is a first-degree murder case.
HAMMER: Here we go. Is this a California bashing session? Let me get my latte.
VAN SUSTEREN: No, but it is -- it is a California question. I mean California is the other extreme. I'm not saying -- I'm not -- I'm saying that I'm actually more disturbed by a murder trial taking three days in Illinois.
VAN SUSTEREN: Than a murder trial being strung out in your great state. Boy, Monday to Wednesday, first degree murder.
HAMMER: You know the -- yes. The only defense for Fridays off here is the change of venue and you could even see it, Greta. We were supposed to be in session today but it was so hard to get jurors out from Modesto, wherever they were, out to San Francisco and prepared for testimony.
The one critique I have of the Peterson trial is Friday should be set aside for things like motions, for things like reviewing tapes, so that we actually should use those days. I did that in a case I tried in L.A.
VAN SUSTEREN: What about this? What about this though? A first-degree murder trial and, you know, three days, I mean a stolen ham from the grocery store takes three days.
WILLIAMS: You're so right and, you know, you got to wonder what kind of evidence could you put on in three days? Those people in the Scott Peterson jury would love to be sitting in Illinois in this case.
HAMMER: Maybe they'll move.
VAN SUSTEREN: And, of course we -- and we don't know the evidence in the case. It could have been a videotaped confession so that a three-day trial is appropriate but it certainly is a little bit stunning without all the information that a citizen could have a jury picked and could be convicted of first-degree murder...
HAMMER: It's stunning.
VAN SUSTEREN: ...in three days.
HAMMER: It's stunning.
VAN SUSTEREN: And I'd like to know a lot more about it but it certainly is stunning. Jim, Ted, thank you both very much.
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