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Tom Hanks on jury leads to reduced charge in case

By Marc Istook, Special to CNN
September 12, 2013 -- Updated 1907 GMT (0307 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Oscar winner Tom Hanks serves jury duty in Los Angeles
  • As the case was wrapping up, a lawyer thanks him for his service
  • Lawyers and jurors cannot interact outside of the courtroom
  • The case was settled, rather than decided by jury

(CNN) -- Two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks played a role in the surprise ending of a domestic assault case in Los Angeles, according to defense attorney Andrew Flier.

Hanks had been serving as a juror in the trial since it started last week. Flier's client was facing up to a year in jail and the attorney was prepared to offer closing arguments in the case on Wednesday.

Instead, as proceedings wrapped Tuesday, the prosecuting attorney revealed that another lawyer in the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office had interacted with Hanks outside the courtroom, thanking him for his service.

As a result, Flier asked the court for a mistrial, citing prosecutorial misconduct. In a hearing on Wednesday morning, lawyers on both sides of the case convened and settled on a reduced charge for the defendant: disturbing the peace and a $150 fine.

City Attorney's Office spokesperson Frank Mateljan confirmed the interaction with Hanks, saying, "The city attorney has been appraised of the situation and will be reviewing it."

CNN reached out to representatives for Hanks for comment, but has not heard back.

The alleged victim's reaction to the resolution was unavailable. Prosecutors do not identify those who makes claims of domestic violence, and the parties involved have made no public statement, Mateljan said.

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Flier said he was initially concerned that having a Hollywood star on the jury would unfairly influence the case's outcome.

"I think because of his celebrity status and because of his personality, I think (the jury) would have followed him."

But after interviewing Hanks in jury selection, Flier decided he was a good fit for the final slot on the jury.

"He never looked or made any statements like he wanted to get off jury duty. So based on everything, he seemed like a very fair juror," Flier said.

Hanks' appearance didn't only affect proceedings inside the courtroom. Flier said the star also drew quite a crowd of photographers and fans outside the courthouse afterward.

"Everyone was taking photographs. He was smiling. He welcomed anybody," Flier said.

If the case hadn't ended in a plea, Flier said he doesn't know how Hanks would have voted.

"He looked at me like he always had, smiled and said, 'I was going to vote the way of justice.' So he never disclosed what that justice was headed for, the defense or the prosecution."

CNN's JD Cargill contributed to this report.

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