Tuesday, September 18, 2007
The jury foreman in the Phil Spector murder trial reported to the judge that the jury is deadlocked at 7-5 and there is no way they will get anyone to budge. When polled individually by the judge, some jurors agreed with what the foreman said but others said they thought that perhaps some re-reading of the instructions and definition of reasonable doubt would also be helpful.
Seizing on the statements of those individual jurors, the judge denied the defense's request for a mistrial and instead sent the jury home with instructions to return on Wednesday.
The judge told the attorneys for both sides that he was reconsidering his statement last week that Spector can only be tried for 2nd degree murder and not for manslaughter. The judge went on to say that he may allow the jury to consider manslaughter after all.
This is a very tough call for the judge. It is my opinion that even if he has attorneys reargue portions of the case, that trying to now let the jury decide about manslaughter is not going to hold up on appeal. If you let the judge do that, then if the jury is deadlocked again, he theoretically could keep moving down the chain of crimes until he finds one the jury will convict on.
The prudent thing to do would be to declare a mistrial and then the District Attorney's office would have to decide whether or not to retry (they would) but perhaps the DA would only proceed with the manslaughter charge from the outset. If the DA's office declined to bring any charges after a mistrial is declared, then of course Spector would be free to go. Not very likely in such a high profile case.
The judge will probably provide the information some of the jurors requested individually and send them back to deliberate in the hopes they can reach a decision. My guess is that the jurors won't change their mind, but said what they did to the judge because it is very intimidating to be polled individually in front of everyone and will often say whatever they think the judge wants them to say.