Risk Management

Tyco Jury Regains Its Focus

After a private conversation with an ''independent'' juror, the judge denies a request for a mistrial, and the jury's notes suggest that deliberati...
Stephen TaubMarch 30, 2004

Go back and deliberate.

Those were the instructions of the judge in the Tyco fraud case, who turned down defense requests on Monday that he declare a mistrial due to unusual press coverage of one of the jurors.

“We can’t let what’s in the newspapers dictate what happens,” said New York State Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus said, according to Reuters.

Pressure for a mistrial began building last week amid reports of acrimony in the jury room. In separate notes to Judge Obus, the jurors described the atmosphere as “poisonous” and their deliberations as “irreparably compromised.”

Attention surrounding the nine-man, three-woman jury seems to be focused on Juror No. 4, a 79-year-old retired teacher and former lawyer. Many press reports suggested that she was the sole holdout for acquittal on all 32 counts facing the former chairman and chief executive officer of Tyco International Ltd., Dennis Kozlowski, and former chief financial officer Mark Swartz. It was also Juror No. 4 who, according to some accounts, flashed an “OK” hand sign to the defense team

After accounts in The New York Post and The Wall Street Journal identified the juror by name, the defense team requested a mistrial, stating that the identification had “compromised the deliberations,” according to The New York Times.

After speaking with the juror in private on Monday, Justice Obus said that he was confident she can continue to deliberate, according to Reuters.

“It must be obvious that this is a very independent woman,” Justice Obus reportedly said. “She volunteered more than she was asked. It would be inappropriate to declare a mistrial when 12 jurors…are attempting to deliberate in good faith.”

Sure enough, shortly after deliberations resumed, the jurors sent a note to the judge asking for clarification of a grand larceny charge in the case, according to Reuters. And according to marketwatch.com, the jurors also requested a clarification of the definition of “acting in concert” or acting as an accessory.

Shortly before proceedings ended for the day, the jurors asked to hear again Swartz’ testimony about his New York apartment, according to CNN.com. That testimony will be read back when court resumes Tuesday, said Justice Obus.

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