El Chapo's Attorney Argues Conviction Should Be Overturned Due to Biased Jury

The attorney for Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, the infamous Mexican drug lord, is seeking to have his client's conspiracy conviction overturned on claims that the jury was biased, the Associated Press reported.

According to Guzman's attorney, Marc Fernich, the jury was allegedly exposed to negative claims against Guzman that were banned from being used in Guzman's trial. Fernich argued the court should order a new trial or at the least call a hearing on the alleged misconduct.

"The guy is going to be in a box for the rest of his life. I'm not asking you to play violins for him. This is his last shot," Fernich said.

The unearthed allegations against Guzman included a claim that Guzman sexually abused girls and that he allegedly referred to those girls as "vitamins" to give him energy.

Guzman was convicted in 2019 for what the AP called "a massive drug conspiracy" and was sentenced to life in prison.

According to the Associated Press, Guzman achieved "near-mythical status" thanks to his two prison escapes in Mexico, once escaping through a tunnel in his cell's shower. When he was recaptured for the second time, he was sent to the U.S. in 2017 and placed in solitary confinement.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Hiral Mehta argued against Fernich's allegations, saying the supposed misconduct could not be proved and had no valid evidence, but only amounted to "hearsay and double hearsay."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman in Court
The attorney for Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the infamous Mexican drug lord, is seeking his conviction be overturned on claims that his jury was biased. On July 17, 2019 file photo of a courtroom sketch, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, second from right, during his sentencing in federal court in New York. Elizabeth Williams/Associated Press

Fernich asked the judges to resist any "punitive impulse" toward someone who was cast as a "public enemy" like gangster Al Capone.

The legal claims resonated with Circuit Judge Gerard E. Lynch, who said it was "a not bad argument."

"This is serious stuff," the judge later added.

At trial, Guzman's lawyers argued he was the fall guy for other kingpins who were better at paying off top Mexican politicians and law enforcement officials to protect them.

The judges, while sounding open to the arguments about potential juror prejudice, showed less patience with another claim that Guzman's defense was unfairly hindered by the strict terms of confinement that were imposed in response to his reputation as an escape artist.

Lynch challenged Fernich's characterization that Guzman was thrown into a "modern dungeon," pointing out that his lawyers had constant access to him leading up to the trial.

"He's not isolated from the world," Lynch said. "He's seeing people on a regular basis."

The panel will rule at a later date.