Monday, March 22, 2010

No Mistrial, Jury Wants to Deliberate into Evening

The jury deliberating the fate of former Pennsylvania House Democratic Whip Mike Veon and three onetime aides has requested to work late into evening tonight.
Meantime, a judge has denied the defense’s motion for a mistrial.
Lawyers for three of the four defendants contend Judge Richard Lewis violated Pennsylvania law by replacing a sick juror with an alternate and then re-setting deliberations on Friday.
Joel Sansone, who’s representing Mike Veon, says the switch is definite grounds for appeal.

"If there’s a guilty verdict on any of the defendants, on any counts, it is now permanently and irreparably tainted."

Lewis denied the defense’s mistrial motion, saying his reading of the Superior Court decision that sets the framework for a juror switch justifies his ruling.
He also pointed out the defense did not object to his decision on Friday.
Karl Rominger, who’s representing former Veon staffer Annamarie Perretta-Rosepink, is convinced the jury is deadlocked.

"I would tell you that I believe we will firmly see something come out from this jury that will again beg from the deadlock charge. It’s clear from what we’ve seen in the notes and what we’ve heard that there is some sort of deadlock back there."

The motion quoted a note from the foreman to Judge Lewis saying “there are barriers and biases that cannot be hurdled.” Prosecutor Frank Fina says the defense is misconstruing the jury foreman’s note to Judge Lewis.

"You’re getting one part of the note, so context is everything. And the foreman had every opportunity to follow up. He didn’t. they’ve been deliberating another ten hours since then. Actually, it would be twelve hours since that note was passed. So there’s clearly no problem at this point."

Defense lawyers are concerned because the jury asked the judge last week whether they could render a verdict if they had “come to a decision on one person.”
That was before deliberations started again from scratch.

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