Monday, October 27, 2008
A federal judge dismissed last night one of the jurors in Sen. Ted Stevens's corruption trial after the court lost contact with the woman.
The juror had rushed to California after her father's death Thursday night, forcing U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan to halt what would have been the third day of deliberations Friday.
Sullivan plans to seat an alternate juror this morning and to order the jury to start deliberations from the beginning. The ruling is a setback for Stevens (R-Alaska), who is running for reelection and is looking for an acquittal before Election Day.
"I think we've been more than reasonable," said Sullivan, adding that court officials had been unable to reach the juror since Friday despite repeated attempts.
Stevens, the Senate's longest-serving Republican, is charged with lying on financial disclosure documents to conceal $250,000 in home renovations and other gifts from a friend, millionaire oil contractor Bill Allen.
Stevens has proclaimed his innocence. He is locked in a tight race with Democrat Mark Begich.
Defense lawyer Robert Cary argued for Sullivan to delay his decision until noon today, in case there was a reason the juror had not contacted the court. "She may be on her way back," Cary said.
But Sullivan said the juror "has, for whatever reason, chosen not to communicate further with the court."
The judge also dismissed suggestions to continue deliberations with 11 jurors, saying a restart of deliberations would not eliminate that much work. "They haven't been deliberating that long," he said.
Sullivan prepared one of the four alternate jurors Friday, and will speak to her again this morning before adding her to the seven women and four men on the jury.