Although the jurors in Marvin Mandel's political corruption trial failed to reach a verdict for the fifth day today U.S. District Court Judge Robert L. Taylor said that he would let them deliberate for the rest of the week without further instructions.
Oh Lord, no, I'm not going to bother them if they don't bother me," Judge Taylor said. "I'll let them go through the week . . . I'll let them go through Christmas!"
Taylor said that unless the jurors ask him for specific instructions he will leave them alone. "That's a big them alone. "That's a big (trial) record, a big record," Taylor said, referring to the nine weeks' work of testimony the panel must consider. This he believes easily explains how the jurors could spend 49 hours deliberating without reaching a verdict.
The judge added that it was not unusual for them to deliberate so long without asking any substantive questions.
Again today, the jury ended its deliberations before dinner. They are expected to return Tuesday at 9 a.m.
Only one defended and a handful of attorneys visited the courthouse today, and those visits were brief. "You just can't think about it all the time," explained Mandel codefendant W. Dale Hess who stopped by the courthouse on his way home from work.
Gov. Mandel and his condefendants, Hess. Harry W. Rodgers III, William A. Rodgers, Irvin Kovens and Ernest N. Cory Jr. are all on trial on charges that they defrauded the citizens of Maryland in an alleged scheme to enrich a racetrack that some of the codefendants owned.
Mandel received $350,000 worth of benefits from his friends and codefendants, allegedly in return for lobbying efforts on the racetrack's behalf.
Hess said that the "suspense was worse than anything" during the lengthy deliberations. The wait has been especially hard on his family, he said.
But neither he nor Mandel attorney Arnold Weiner nor the federal prosecutors dared to guess whether the duration of the deliberations indicated a guilty verdict or an acquittal. Except for three requests - for pencils, and notepads, for the entire collection of exhibits in evidence, and for extra verdict forms - the jury has been silent, giving no clues about their deliberations.
Last Friday, juror Theodore T. Brown collapsed from an apparent reaction to penicillin. His hospitalization postponed deliberations on Saturday, but the jury reassembled on Sunday, one hour after Brown's release from Mercy Hospital here.
Although attorneys and court clerks say that the jury has now deliberated longer than any other in the Baltimore federal courts, Judge Taylor said he found nothing peculiar about the panel's inability to reach a verdict after 49 hours.
The jurors must make 129 separate decisions of guilt or innocence involving 23 counts of mail fraud and racketeering which the prosecutors have brought against the governor and his codefendants.
It has been more than two years since the investigation into Mandel's business relationships with his codefendants began.