As the jurors in the Marvin Mandel political corruption trial for the ninth day to reach a verdict, U.S. District Judge Robert L. Taylor announced today he would let them deliverate undisturbed, possibly, until Wednesday, despite prosecution suggestions that he intervene to help them break their deadlock.
With the prospect of a seemingly endless vigil before them, defendants, their attorneys and even the press began to relax. Defense Attorney Thomas C. Green departed today for a planned Colorado vacation at the insistance of his client Harry W. Rodgers 111.
Other defense attorneys, some for the first time, made attempts to return to a normal work schedule away from the courthouse.
Mandel was the only defendant, to show up at the courthouse today, "just out for a stroll," he said. For a sport to enjoy the sunshine, Mandel chose a beach outside the courthouse and in front of dozens of cameras and reporters.
During his hour-long impromptu press conference Mandel criticized chief federal prosecutor Barnet D. Skolnik for comments he made Thursday about his "frustration" at the thought of a hung jury and the long deliberation.
"You have to have a certain kind of evil mind to have a certain kind of evil thought," Mandel said of Skolnik, ". . . I always thought that a prosecutor or defendant or anyone that represents justice is supposed to say to the jury, 'here's our facts, now you make a determination.' I don't think a prosecutor should be out praying for a conviction. I never thought that's what justice was all about. I thought that a prosecutor had a duty to present a case, present it fairly and then let it be decided by a jury," Mandel said.
When Jeanne Mandel, the governor's wife, was asked if she was praying today she answered: "Are you kidding? I pray morning, noon and night and I never stop praying. You know what? Try it sometimes. It's good."
Skolnik spoke with reporters Thursday to tell of his frustrations with the long deliberation and to explain that he wanted Judge Taylor to heed the prosecutor's memorandum of suggestions in order to insure that the jury is not deadlocked unnecessary.
This morning, attorneys for all six defendants filed their response to that memorandum, suggesting to Judge Taylor that the simply ignore the prosecution's requests.
"With the jury deliberating at length," the defense team wrote, "the court must refrain from the gjovernment's suggestion... for it appears to weigh frustration over deliberation, coercion over reflection and pride over sensitivity for the rights of individuals on trial."
The prosecution team, including Skolnik, Ronald S. Liebman and Daniel J. Hurson, had suggested that Taylor call the jury back to strongly suggest to the minority jurors that they listen to the majority, or ask the jury to write down the focus of the problems in deliberation, or to repeat instructions to the jury about laws covering a scheme to defraud, the underpinning of the multicount indictment against the six defendants.
Although Taylor announced in the afternoon that he had no intention of calling the jury back for further instruction "before Monday or Tuesday, or Wednesday," he also said he had not decide if he would accept any of the prosecution's suggestions.
"When I read one memorandum I think it's a good one," the judge said. "And then when I read the other I think that's a good one. I have to make up my own mind."
The judge's remarks and Mandel's mid-morning visit with his wife Jeanne were the only events at the courthouse today where the jury has deliberated now for more than 80 hours.
The size of the press corps here has not deminished but with the grinding vigil the members of the media have wandered farther and farther away from the courthouse. Lunch hours grow longer, and the wait is monitored more often in shifts rather than en masse.
Mandel agreed to five live interviews for noon-hour television news programs. He an his wife Jeanne explained how well-wishers were keeping their spirits up and Mandel claimed that the hung jury would be "a complete vindication for me."
"After the government spent in excess of $5 million and three years to find a crime and can't get conviction - that's vindication, " Mandel claimed.
Jeanne Mandel said that she received a bouquet of flowers with boxing gloves attached from a well-wisher yesterday. She also said that it took her and the governor more than an hour to walk one block recently because they were stopped so often by friends and strangers encouraging them with good wishes.
While he was smiling and easily fielding questions, Mandel was asked whether or not he was a ruined man as his attorney had claimed in final arguments before the jury. "I don't know what you mean . . . I can't answer those questions. But I don't feel beaten at all."