Former Councilman Luis Artiga, left, celebrates his acquittal, standing with his attorney George Mgdesyan during a news conference after the Bell trial verdicts were read Wednesday March 20, 2013 in Los Angeles. Five former elected officials of the tiny California city of Bell were convicted Wednesday of multiple counts of misappropriation of public funds, and a sixth defendant, Artiga, was cleared entirely.
Jurors for the Bell city corruption case have been called back into court a day after delivering mixed verdicts in the trial of six city officials. Judge Kathleen Kennedy called the jury back into court to address the deadlock on nearly half of the charges. After 18 days of deliberation, the jury convicted five former Bell city council members — Hernandez, Cole, Victor Bello, Teresa Jacobo and George Mirabal – on multiple felony counts.
But notes submitted to the judge hours after the conviction have raised question about the unanimity of the decisions. Notes from Juror 7 and from an anonymous juror have expressed doubt about some of the presentations in the courtroom. Another juror brought up his or her concern that other jurors were straying from their mission and misunderstanding the law. It has not been determined how Judge Kennedy will handle the notes, or how further deliberations in the case will proceed.
Have you ever been on a confused jury? How much control should the judge have in deciding who sits on a jury? What kinds of pressure do jurors in deadlocked cases face?
Dmitry Gorin, partner at criminal defense firm Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP in Van Nuys, adjunct law professor at Pepperdine University School of Law and UCLA