People v. Biane
The Focal Point’s Role
In 2011, Jeff Burum, Paul Biane, Mark Kirk, and Jim Erwin were indicted on 29 counts of conspiracy, bribery, conflict of interest, misappropriation of public funds, forgery, and perjury stemming from a series of contributions Burum made to political action committees linked to members of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors. The contributions were made several months after the Supervisors voted to settle a legal dispute with Jeff Burum for $102 million. Upon filing the criminal case, then California Attorney General Jerry Brown referred to it as the largest political corruption case in California history.
For over 3 years, the Focal Point worked with the defense attorneys to develop persuasion strategies and graphics for various pre trial motions and at trial. The Focal Point’s jury consultants selected two separate juries (one for Mr. Erwin and one for the remaining defendants) from several hundred potential jurors using insight gained from our community attitude survey, focus group, and mock trial exercises conducted in the lead up to trial.
The Focal Point’s Client
Steven A. Haskins
Melissa A. Meister
Superior Court of California, County of San Bernardino
After an eight-month trial, the jury found Jeff Burum, Paul Biane, and Mark Kirk not guilty of all charges on August 27, 2017 after only 1 day of deliberating. All charges against Jim Erwin were dismissed after the court found that the jury, who was leaning towards acquittal, was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on September 12, 2017 and District Attorney Michael Ramos declined to retry the case.