Uintah Investigator Charged With Jury Tampering
Last year, the trial of three Uintah Basin defendants, charged with gang rape, could not be held in Summit County because an unusual number of those summoned for jury duty were no-shows.
Now there’s another twist to that story. An investigator for the Uintah County Attorney’s office has been charged with jury tampering, due to his contacts and conversations with the prospective jurors gathered at the Silver Creek Courthouse last December.
Charges were filed this week by the Summit County Attorney’s office against 38-year-old Jayson Chamberlain, of Roosevelt.
He is accused of one count of Tampering with a Juror, a Third-Degree Felony.
In the Uintah Basin case, Defendants Jerry Flatlip, Randall Flatlip and Larson Rondeau were accused of sexually assaulting a young girl in Vernal in 2016. The judge, feeling they could not get a fair trial in that area, moved the case to Summit County.
Last December 12th, about 60 people were gathered at the Silver Creek courthouse for the jury interview process that ran from the morning to late afternoon. In this week’s charging documents, several prospective jurors said that Chamberlain was around the whole day in the courthouse lobby, that he mentioned to people he was an investigator with Uintah County and a possible witness in the case, and that he was “very chit-chatty.”
One witness said Chamberlain mentioned his laptop was very important and it couldn’t get broken because it was the property of the FBI or Secret Service.
Another said Chamberlain was learning items about the prospective jurors—such as values and family situation—that could be useful to the prosecution.
Another said Chamberlain did her a favor, going out to her car and getting a snack, because she couldn’t leave the courthouse.
Ultimately, the case was moved to Salt Lake County, due to the lack of prospective jurors in Summit County. The three defendants were acquitted by a jury in May. One defense attorney had asked for the charges to be dismissed due to Chamberlain’s conduct in Summit County.
In a statement this week, Summit County Attorney Margaret Olson said that to protect the integrity of the jury selection process, all contacts and information-gathering with potential jurors have to be done on the record and with both sides present and by the rules. She said, “It is the duty of all lawyers involved and their agents and representatives, to ensure that the process is a fundamentally fair one.”