TBA Law Blog

Posted by: Kate Prince on Oct 15, 2020

 The 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has overturned the convictions of former Pilot Flying J President Mark Hazelwood and two of his former staffers, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. In a two-to-one decision, the federal appellate court ruled that U.S. District Judge Curtis Collier was wrong to allow prosecutors at the 2018 trial to play secret recordings of Hazelwood making racist comments and singing along to a racist song. The 6th Circuit ruled Collier’s decision to allow the tapes was legally flawed and his instruction to the jury inadequate, stating in their opinion that the “inflammatory nature of Hazelwood’s comments created a strong risk that the jury would convict him based on factors other than the charged conduct.” Hazelwood was convicted in 2018 after a four-month trial of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and witness tampering. It was not immediately known if the U.S. Attorney’s office will seek to appeal the decision.