A federal court jury in the financial fraud trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort sent a note to the judge Tuesday suggesting they might be having trouble coming to a consensus on at least one count.
The note asked the judge what they should do if they can’t come to a unanimous decision on a single count. It’s not uncommon for jurors to have a split decision, coming to a consensus on some counts and not others.
But it’s unclear whether the jury had come to a conclusion on the other counts as they asked about just a single count of the 18 criminal charges laid against Manafort.
In the note, the jury asked: “If we cannot come to a consensus on a single count, how do we fill out the jury verdict form for that count?”
“And what would that mean to the final verdict?”
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III reconvened the panel in open court and urged them to continue an attempt to reach a “unanimous” decision on all counts.
In his instruction, Ellis reminded jurors that they are the ultimate judges in the case.
“You are not partisans,” Ellis told them, adding that “your sole mission is to seek the truth.”
Outside the presence of the jury, Ellis said that if the panel still cannot come to a decision, he will ask whether they have reached a decision on the other counts and then “consider” accepting that verdict.
“This is not uncommon,” Ellis told the attorneys.
As the afternoon wore on, reporters read books and newspapers inside the courtroom while others worked on crossword and sudoku puzzles waiting for any word from jurors.
Television photographers lined up outside the Albert V. Bryan Courthouse erected umbrellas over their equipment as the skies turned gray. They ran for cover when a strong thunderstorm moved through the area.
The jury, six men and six women, reported to the ninth-floor courtroom at 9:30 a.m. EDT Tuesday, where Ellis quickly released them to resume their fourth day of discussions.
On Monday, the jury extended its work for more than an hour, an indication jurors may have been close to a decision, but were dismissed by Ellis at about 6:15 p.m.
Though the charges against Manafort are not related to Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, the trial is an important initial test for special counsel Robert Mueller.
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Source: USA Today