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Judge Denies Mistrial Motion In Tyco Case, Lets Jury Remain

By Andrew Ross Sorkin

The New York Times -- NEW YORK

In an effort to keep the six-month-long corporate theft trial of two former top executives of Tyco International from ending without a verdict, the judge in the case on Monday rejected a defense motion for a mistrial on the ground that the naming of a juror by the news media had compromised the deliberations.

Justice Michael J. Obus of State Supreme Court in Manhattan, who has had to contend with increasing evidence of infighting in the jury room, instructed the jury to continue its deliberations, noting that “while we certainly cannot pretend to operate in a vacuum, we cannot let what is published in the newspaper determine what happens here.” While it is not illegal for a juror to be identified by name while a trial is in progress, the news media typically refrain from doing so.

Lawyers for L. Dennis Kozlowski, Tyco’s former chief executive, had argued that Juror No. 4 -- who indicated in a note last week that she favored an acquittal on all charges and appeared to give an “OK” gesture to the defense team on Friday -- could have been unduly influenced by media focus.

But Obus, after interviewing the juror in chambers, told the court that he was comfortable continuing with deliberations because she had told him “that nothing that has happened will, from her point of view, prevent her from deliberating in good conscience with the other jurors.”

“She has said that she is prepared to do so and is doing so,” Obus said.

Juror No. 4’s decision to deliberate after having taken such a hardened stance to acquit on all 32 charges may raise questions about the validity of a verdict if one is reached, legal experts said.

The jurors continued their work through the afternoon, even sending notes to the judge with specific questions about certain charges, indicating that they may now be making progress, in sharp contrast to notes last week that described their deliberations as “poisonous.” They are expected to resume their deliberations Tuesday.