John Edwards : Juror Issues

Predicting what is going on behind the closed doors of jury deliberation is like reading tea leaves. Something is going on behind the scenes with the jurors in the John Edwards trial. What that might be is unclear.

The judge held another closed conference yesterday after a juror submitted a note. She also told the alternates they no longer have to report every day, they are now on "standby."

For once, the media seems to be unwilling to speculate. Why? Absence of facts has never stopped them before, especially if they can create a story that someone will be found guilty. [More...]

While its next to impossible to predict what a jury is thinking, maybe there are clues from the reactions of the lawyers.

The Judge's jury instructions went against John Edwards on every key issue. They fought tooth and nail to get the Judge to see the law the way they did, and failed. Given the judge's instructions, they have to fear a guilty verdict on at least a few counts.

If there were even a single hint of juror impropriety, I would expect Team Edwards to be filing motions daily, asking for a mistrial or at least for particular jurors to be excused and replaced with alternates. Now that they know how the judge sides on the key issues, they could better tailor their defense strategy at a retrial to fit the instructions.

The public hasn't seen the notes or been told the nature of the jury problems. But the judge has held at least three closed conferences with the lawyers, so they know what's afoot. They know whether the problems favor or go against their side.

Team Edwards hasn't filed a single motion or brief about the jury issues. (Had they filed something under seal, the docket should reflect it. And the docket shows nothing filed by either party since before any juror issue arose last week.)

Could Team Edwards' silence about the juror issues mean they believe they work in his favor? I think it's a fair possibility.

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    Posted on Thu May 31, 2012 at 08:11:00 AM EST ? (none / 0) (#1)
    by unitron on Thu May 31, 2012 at 04:22:56 AM EST
    It's only 5:16 AM here in NC.


    I must be getting old. The idea of jurors (or alternates) co-ordinating clothing colors or doing anything else that indicates that they think it's all about them makes it difficult for me to believe they're taking their civic duty as seriously as it deserves to be taken.

    Beating the wrong dead horse. (5.00 / 3) (#7)
    by Addison on Thu May 31, 2012 at 09:52:38 AM EST
    I find the judge's actions in this case far more injurious to "justice" than the jurors undergrad-style pranks. The jurors merely gave the appearance of unseriousness via doing something that didn't matter in the slightest -- it's "annoying", perhaps, but not substantive. The judge has behaved in ways that direct impact the trial.

    Many Colors (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by nomatter0nevermind on Thu May 31, 2012 at 10:15:03 AM EST
    indicates that they think it's all about them

    I'm not familiar with the code book you used to decipher this message.

    I think this is a ridiculous non-issue. If there is no rule requiring jurors and alternates to wear different colored clothing, there's no problem.


    I put the next day on posts (none / 0) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Thu May 31, 2012 at 04:36:40 AM EST
    late at night.  

    Thank you for the explanation (none / 0) (#3)
    by unitron on Thu May 31, 2012 at 05:27:24 AM EST

    Is there any proof that the jurors (none / 0) (#5)
    by itscookin on Thu May 31, 2012 at 07:52:28 AM EST
    actually coordinated their clothing? I'm a teacher, and there were many days when my department would sit down at lunch and realize that several of us had chosen to wear the same color that day. No planning, just random clothing selection. If several people own a lot of red blouses and shirts, the odds are that occasionally most of them will show up in red on the same day.

    The coordinating clothing happend more than once. (none / 0) (#6)
    by Angel on Thu May 31, 2012 at 07:58:40 AM EST
    Big gamble you're positing, TL (none / 0) (#4)
    by scribe on Thu May 31, 2012 at 07:05:39 AM EST
    If I'm in defense counsel's shoes, if there's a hint of impropriety I'm filing motions regardless of how it looks the jury is coming out.  This, for two reasons.

    First, just b/c the jurors look to be going one way doesn't mean they will turn out that way.  If defense counsel is wrong in how they read the tea leaves and don't make their motions, they're screwed.  I'll say trying to read a jury during deliberations is like trying to read tea leaves without a cup and with one's eyes closed.

    Second, the time for making a motion on a juror issue or a misconduct issue is immediately.  As in instantly.  A dozen or so years ago, I was second-chairing a colleague's trial.  We got an adverse verdict very late in the day - like 6 pm, then packed up and went home.  Two miles down the road from the courthouse, it dawned on me (and my colleague, in our separate cars) that the jury clerk/bailiff had not been properly sworn and, in fact, had been talking trash about how "some people will sue over anything" within earshot of the jury while he was hitting on the attractive European woman brought in to be a "person with knowledge" witness on behalf of a corporate defendant and waiting the verdict in the courtroom.

    It was such an obscure issue - stuff like this never happens - that it took all that night and most of the next day to research and write the motion and get it ready for filing.  By which time, it was deemed too late.

    some questions (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Jeralyn on Thu May 31, 2012 at 12:30:03 PM EST
    by their nature indicate their position.  And yes the objection should be raised immediately. In McVeigh, one juror was overheard saying before deliberations started, "We all know he's guilty." Another said, "I hope I'm not the only holdout." The defense made a flurry of motions, from replacing the jurors, to having the judge interview those who made the comments, to having the judge interview all of them to see if they had heard it and been affected. The defense also asked to be present during the questioning. All motions were denied. (The judge decided the second juror's comment was likely a joke -- even though he didn't interview him/her.) It was an issue in the motion for new trial and on appeal. It was unsuccessful (obviously, since McVeigh was later executed.)

    My thought was what if the questions had gone the other way. Yes, they would make oral motions, but I would think they'd file a brief, and that isn't done orally.

    But yes, it's reading tea leaves and I was just suggesting a possibility.


    Assuming the conferences are transcribed... (none / 0) (#8)
    by magster on Thu May 31, 2012 at 09:54:46 AM EST
    ... the judge may be permitting oral motions or at least allowing an issue raised orally to be preserved for later briefing if/when necessary.

    BREAKING: The jury's reached a verdict. (none / 0) (#11)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu May 31, 2012 at 01:31:09 PM EST
    It is to be announced shortly.

    Fingers crossed for Edwards. (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Angel on Thu May 31, 2012 at 01:37:37 PM EST
    I don't believe the prosecution proved its case, especially considering the judge wouldn't allow the FEC information.  

    I have a feeling the Edwards team (none / 0) (#14)
    by Anne on Thu May 31, 2012 at 01:53:22 PM EST
    is already planning an appeal, given how the testimony, evidence and jury instructions were handled.

    On the other hand, maybe the jury wasn't distracted by the heavy-handed efforts to make this a case about Edwards' personal life, and have the sense to see the weakness of the prosecution's legal case.

    I guess we'll know soon enough.


    Just heard on local tv (none / 0) (#13)
    by DizzyMissL on Thu May 31, 2012 at 01:51:41 PM EST
    unanimous on only one count.

    Verdict on only one (none / 0) (#15)
    by DizzyMissL on Thu May 31, 2012 at 01:54:22 PM EST

    What station are you watching? (none / 0) (#17)
    by Angel on Thu May 31, 2012 at 01:55:33 PM EST
    news14 (none / 0) (#20)
    by DizzyMissL on Thu May 31, 2012 at 01:56:53 PM EST
    MSNBC is reporting that. (none / 0) (#21)
    by Addison on Thu May 31, 2012 at 01:57:41 PM EST
    They're talking about the weirdness of being unanimous on count 3, but none of the other illegal contribution counts.

    Verdict only on count 3 (none / 0) (#16)
    by Addison on Thu May 31, 2012 at 01:55:02 PM EST
    Count 3: Illegal campaign contributions (maximum 5-year sentence)

    Edwards is accused of receiving contributions from Mellon in excess of of federal limits in 2008.

    Asking for (none / 0) (#18)
    by DizzyMissL on Thu May 31, 2012 at 01:55:39 PM EST

    Yea, if true. (none / 0) (#19)
    by Angel on Thu May 31, 2012 at 01:56:04 PM EST
    Judge told them to keep deliberating... (none / 0) (#23)
    by Angel on Thu May 31, 2012 at 01:58:23 PM EST
    this per MSNBC.

    MSNBC also reports the verdict (none / 0) (#24)
    by oculus on Thu May 31, 2012 at 02:11:55 PM EST
    on the one count (Mellon) won't be announced now.  

    On pins and needles... (none / 0) (#25)
    by Angel on Thu May 31, 2012 at 02:12:34 PM EST
    You could switch to (none / 0) (#26)
    by oculus on Thu May 31, 2012 at 02:19:16 PM EST
    Zimmerman case discovery thread while waiting!

    I think I've read every comment on those and it's (5.00 / 5) (#27)
    by Angel on Thu May 31, 2012 at 02:20:58 PM EST
    getting monotonous.

    link to local live news (none / 0) (#22)
    by DizzyMissL on Thu May 31, 2012 at 01:58:02 PM EST
    Oh dear. (none / 0) (#28)
    by Addison on Thu May 31, 2012 at 02:46:46 PM EST
    MSNBC coverage of the issue took a nosedive when Bashir took over the anchor desk. He's trying to gin this up into some sensational jury-gone-wild story.

    CNN's coverage has that Sunny lady, though.

    Jury just sent ANOTHER note to judge ~4pm EST (none / 0) (#29)
    by Addison on Thu May 31, 2012 at 03:02:12 PM EST

    Not guilty on Count 3. Mistrial declared on (none / 0) (#30)
    by Angel on Thu May 31, 2012 at 03:28:57 PM EST
    5 other counts!