For Juror No. 7, there were just too many holes in the public corruption case against Maryland Sen. Ulysses Currie to convict him.
“It wasn’t proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” Kelly Cavanaugh, 28, said in an interview Thursday. “I thought the prosecution did a great job with what they had, but they didn’t have enough evidence.”
Cavanaugh, who works in sales and lives in Baltimore, was one of 12 jurors who rendered “not guilty” verdicts on Tuesday in the six-week case against Currie (D-Prince George’s) and two grocery chain executives.
Prosecutors alleged that under the guise of a consulting contract, Currie and the executives conspired to use his office to do a series of government favors for Shoppers Food Warehouse over more than five years.
Evidence showed Currie advocated for traffic-light requests, a liquor license transfer and some development deals, meeting in several cases with state officials who didn’t know he was being paid by Shoppers.
Cavanaugh said there were too many questions left unanswered to convict Currie and his two co-defendants of conspiracy, bribery and extortion, as prosecutors asked. And it wasn’t clear, she said, the three men knew what they were doing was wrong.
One of several things that was never explained, Cavanaugh said, was the role of Richard Bergman, who took over as president of Shoppers in 2006 and authorized Currie’s biggest raise. Bergman’s predecessor, William J. White, was charged in the case, but Bergman was not. And though Bergman’s name was mentioned several times during the trial, he was never called to testify.
Echoing other jurors who have spoken publicly about the case, heard in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, Cavanaugh said she found Currie’s actions troubling — but not necessarily criminal.
“It is absolutely clear that what he did was unethical,” Cavanaugh said. “But that wasn’t the question we were asked to answer.”
She said she was leaning toward guilty on some counts when closing arguments concluded but found the instructions given by the judge to be pivotal. Once it was clear what elements had to be proven for convictions on various counts, jurors realized the case was not “airtight,” Cavanaugh said.
She said she was not impressed by the parade of fellow politicians called by Currie’s defense team as character witnesses.
“They’re politicians,” Cavanaugh said. “They’re trained not to answer questions.”
Cavanaugh said that after deliberations began, jurors each offered how they were leaning. Three were inclined to find Currie guilty, while one or two were on the fence, she said. The remainder were inclined to acquit.
After talking about the evidence for three days, all jurors became convinced there was reasonable doubt, Cavanaugh said. By Tuesday, “some people were getting sick of the case,” she said, but all jurors were committed to doing their duty.
“We really did consider everything,” Cavanaugh said.