Ex-NYC councilman loses bid for new corruption trial

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 19, 2014 6:13 PM

By Nate Raymond

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former New York City Councilman Larry Seabrook lost a bid for a new trial on Friday after a federal judge rejected his claim that his brother and aide were excluded from watching jury selection.

U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel in Manhattan ruled that no one was excluded and said that a request by U.S. District Judge Deborah Batts and her deputy clerk for members of the public to vacate their seats meant "make room for the jurors."

"An instruction to vacate the seats is not tantamount to an instruction to vacate the courtroom," he wrote.

Margaret Shalley, Seabrook's lawyer, said she would seek further review from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Seabrook, 63, was sentenced in 2013 to five years in prison after being found guilty on charges that he illegally steered funds intended for community development to his girlfriend and relatives.

An earlier trial in 2011 ended in a deadlocked jury. Seabrook was retried in 2012 and found guilty in the trial that prompted the 2nd Circuit to seek a review of Batts' instructions to spectators during jury selection.

At a hearing in November, Batts, a rarity for judge, took the stand, testifying that she had not intended for spectators to vacate the courtroom, only their seats while jury selection was underway.

Oliver Seabrook, the defendant's brother, and Carl Green, his former aide, both testified that Batts' deputy approached them after they moved in response to her request and repeated that they had to make room.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)