Risk Management

Tyco’s Twelve Angry Men and Women

''We're not done here'' is the judge's message in the trial of two former executives of Tyco International Ltd., even if one juror seems to have ma...
Stephen Taub and Dave CookMarch 29, 2004

Friday was a short day for the Tyco jurors. Perhaps the unusually balmy weekend weather in New York will help clear their heads of the “poisonous” atmosphere in the jury room, as they described it last week in a note to the judge.

Another note, sent early Friday afternoon to New York State Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus, stated that the deliberations were “irreparably compromised” — apparently, by a single juror.

Justice Obus read the note aloud to the courtroom: “Let us be very clear — this is not a hung jury based upon a lack of unanimity,” he read, according to The New York Times. “This is a jury that has ceased to be able to conduct respectful, open-minded, good-faith deliberations.”

The controversy swirling around the nine-man, three-woman jury seems to center around Juror No. 4, a 79-year-old retired teacher and former lawyer. The New York Post — which also identified her by name — stated that she is a member of the Colonial Dames of America and at least two “tony” social clubs, according to the 2004 Social Register, and that she lives in a “posh doorman building” on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. She arrives at the courthouse in a chauffeur-driven car, added the Times.

Juror No. 4 is apparently holding out for acquittal on all 32 counts facing Tyco’s former chairman and chief executive officer, Dennis Kozlowski, and former chief financial officer Mark Swartz. The charges — which could send the defendants to prison for 25 years if they are convicted on all counts — center on lavish spending and payments afforded to Kozlowski and Swartz, which the prosecution has maintained were not approved by Tyco. The defense has countered those accusations of “corporate looting” by arguing that the spending was not hidden from the company, and that at least some payments were explicitly approved by Tyco’s board of directors.

It was also Juror No. 4 who apparently flashed an “OK” hand sign to the defense team, noted by many observers in the courtroom though not by Justice Obus. (He did, however, later admonish the jury not to communicate in any way on the case with anyone outside the jury room.)

A source who has known Juror No. 4 for more than 10 years told the Post that “one defining character is she is unbelievably paranoid.” She may be holding out in the juror room, added the source, “because she thinks the other jurors are out to get her.” A former friend of the juror who was interviewed by the newspaper said that she’s “quite bright” but that “she seems to be speaking down to people.” Added the former friend: “She may be telling the jury, ‘I’m the expert here,’ and feels she is interpreting the letter of the law.”

“We believe the fairness of the process has been compromised,” said Kozlowski’s attorney, Austin Campriello, according to the Associated Press. Judge Obus turned down defense motions for a mistrial, however, stating that “I’m not convinced at this point, based on their language in the notes” that a deadlock is inevitable, according to the AP.