The case of the Wecht jury deliberations gets curiouser and curiouser. Remember now, since deliberations began on March 18, 2008, the jury has deliberated on only 8 of the intervening 22 days, and they have had two consecutive four day weekends. The irony here is that the defense has blasted the district court for months now, alleging judicial bias, but if there is a way to interrupt the continuity of jury deliberations, it is to have them deliberate only 5 hours and a half hours a day and only 3 days a week. The result, 22 days after deliberations began, the jury has deliberated a total of approximately 44 hours. Not surprisingly, out of this jumbled deliberation arises jury confusion, over what appears to have been a weak case to begin with (see earlier post here).
The latest saga began when a male juror took ill on Tuesday (see here). Judge Schwab then dismissed the juror, apparently without any inquiry of the juror’s physician, and without taking any testimony from the juror. A rare move indeed. The defense filed a motion to vacate that order (see brief here). I would argue that the defense has an absolute right to have the issue of the juror’s physical ability to continue deliberations vetted in open court, on the record. Not surprisingly, defense counsel objected vehemently, and now we know why – this juror was a male prison chaplain.
In an earlier post, I posed the question, whether the stuff of this case had the makings for a federal criminal prosecution. Not to prejudge before the case is done, but the jury’s apparent deadlock suggests the obvious answer.
To complicate things and to move the case further down Alice’s rabbit hole, the jury today announced that “they are deadlocked”. The court then individually questioned each juror about whether they were, in fact, deadlocked, and then, each juror having answered in the affirmative, the court sent them back to continue deliberations!! Not surprisingly, the defense was apoplectic. And, to round this bizarre course of events out – no deliberations tomorrow – the jury returns to continue deliberations on Monday.