From left: Bell Mayor Oscar Hernandez, former council members Luis Artiga, former Assistant City Administrator Angela Spaccia and former Bell City Administrator Robert Rizzo appear during a preliminary hearing at Los Angeles Superior Court.
The Bell corruption trial has reached new levels of abnormality after Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy declared a mistrial yesterday.
Kennedy said “all hell had broken loose” due to a jury that was divided on the verdicts reached thus far. Furthermore, several jurors expressed their concern via anonymous notes to the judge after rendering the verdicts received thus far. Still, nearly half the counts have not been decided yet, and this impasse represents an extreme rarity in the legal world. While the developments certainly indicate a boon to defense attorneys trying to mount a challenge to the delivered verdicts, experts feel that since the jury deliberated and decided, there’s no precedent for overturning them.
The case moving forward with the undecided counts is less clear, and the defense is reluctant to show their cards given former Bell administrator Robert Rizzo’s upcoming trial; Rizzo is thought to be the mastermind behind the corruption scandal.
So what’s next? And why is this case so bereft with jury problems? What was going on in the deliberation room?
Corina Knoll, Los Angeles Times reporter covering the Bell corruption trial
Richard Gabriel, trial consultant for Decision Analysis, co-author with Ted Donner of “Jury Selection: Strategy & Science" (Clark Boardman Callaghan, 2011)