Oakland judge delays contempt hearing to investigate Facebook request to juror

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Pontiac — A contempt hearing for a 20-year-old Goodrich woman accused of asking a male juror in her boyfriend’s drug trial to “friend” her on Facebook was delayed when suspicions arose about who may have sent the request.

According to testimony before Oakland Circuit Judge Martha Anderson, Brianna Trovato may be in hot water for something done by her boyfriend, Samuel Misko, who was subsequently convicted of all charges.

Trovato said she and Misko shared a cellphone account and each had access to each other’s phones and presumably, Facebook accounts,assistant prosecutor Beth Hand told Anderson on Friday

Trovato was arrested on a bench warrant Wednesday morning outside Oakland Circuit Court on contempt of court charges. The arrest was made after Anderson was informed by a juror that he had received a friend request from Trovato, who sat in court every day during the trial of her boyfriend, Misko, 23, also of Goodrich.

Misko was convicted Wednesday of six counts of manufacturing with intent to deliver marijuana and six related firearms offenses.

Assistant prosecutor Beth Hand told Anderson on Friday that “new information” indicates Trovato may not be the person who made the Facebook request. Trovato said she and Misko shared a cellphone account and each had access to each other’s phones and presumably, Facebook accounts.

“I would like to explore this,” said Hand. “... I would like an adjournment....”

Anderson granted the request and said Trovato, who has no criminal history, will be allowed to remain free on $2,000 cash bond but warned her not to leave the state and not to have any contact with Misko personally or by any third party.

Trovato, who was accompanied in court by a man and a woman, appeared upset before the hearing. Her attorney, Edward Bajoka, declined to comment on the case.

Earlier this week, Hand said it was only the second time in her 22 years of practicing law that she had seen someone attempt to contact a juror.

“... Equally troubling is the juror’s name was never placed on the record,” Hand said. “How this ‘friend request’ came about is puzzling. The juror was visibly upset....”

The jury was in its second day of deliberating Misko’s fate when the juror told others Trovato had tried to contact him. Facebook pages of senders frequently contain photographs of the sender along with a profile or personal information, such as whom they might be friends with or dating.

The juror did not “friend” Trovato, according to Anderson, but the judge issued the warrant to have Trovato brought before her in court.

If ultimately found in contempt of court, Trovato could face fines and even jail time.

Misko faces seven years in prison on the drug charges and a mandatory two years imprisonment for weapons convictions.

His attorney, James Amberg, said earlier this week he felt the Facebook incident could be grounds for appealing Misko’s conviction because other jurors might have been angered or even frightened that someone might try to contact them over the Internet.

Amberg could not be immediately reached for comment on Friday’s developments.

Misko, who remains in the Oakland County Jail pending a Sept. 8 sentencing, was arrested in 2013 following a “buy bust” of a confidential informant for the Oakland County Narcotics Enforcement Team. NET officers raided his Genesee County home and seized marijuana, cash, drug paraphernalia and guns.


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