The Corner

The Libby Trial — Heading Toward a Hung Jury?

The judge has just made his statement to the jury.  It turns out that one of the jury members asked for a dictionary, and the judge explained to them that they could not be given one.  “I try as best I can to use common language in the instructions I give to jurors,” Walton told them.  “If there is any wording in the instructions that you need defined, those have to come from the court.  You can’t look in the dictionary and get what the dictionary definition is.”

The more important thing going on is the growing concern over the length of the jury’s deliberations.  Today was Day Seven, and the jury has asked to be let out early tomorrow, which will be Day Eight.  Everyone, including Judge Walton, has taken that as a sign that jurors know they won’t have a verdict tomorrow, meaning that deliberations will stretch at least into Day Nine on Monday.

Before the jury came into the courtroom, the judge was talking to the defense and prosecution and observed that the jury was dressed casually today — a standard clue that jurors did not expect to have a verdict, which would be announced in the courtroom with the media present.  “They did not dress today, so I knew there would not be a verdict,” Walton said.  Then Walton mentioned the early-release note for tomorrow and said, “I assume they will not have a verdict tomorrow, either.”

Most observers think that protracted negotiations point to the possibility of a hung jury and a mistrial, as jurors realize they are unable to reach a decision.  The case is somewhat complicated, but it’s not that complicated; a verdict could reasonably be expected by now.  Nevertheless, jurors have not told the judge that they can’t reach a verdict, and even if that happens, the judge would undoubtedly tell them to go back and try harder, leading to more deliberations.

Byron York — Byron York is is the author of The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy.

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