Juror rebels at NY Assembly speaker's trial

AP News
|
Posted: Nov 24, 2015 11:19 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — Deliberations in the corruption trial of ex-New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver began with drama on Tuesday when a juror wrote a note saying she wanted off the case because she was at odds with other jurors and, after the day ended without a verdict, asked in a second note to meet privately with the judge.

The unnamed juror said she had a different "opinion/view" than other jurors "and it is making me feel very, very uncomfortable." She also claimed that the other jurors were accusing her of not using her common sense.

"My heart is pounding and my head feels weird," she said in the first communication from the jury, surfacing less than two hours into the first day of deliberations. "I am so stressed out right now that I can't even write normally. I don't feel like I can be myself right now! I need to leave!"

There was clear no indication how the woman and other jurors were divided on the question of guilt. While dismissing the jury for the day, U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni said the matter would be addressed on Wednesday morning.

Prosecutors accuse Silver of abusing his office for years, collecting millions of dollars in kickbacks for favors provided to a cancer researcher and real estate developers. The defense countered that the once-powerful Democrat did not commit a crime.

In all, prosecutors claim Silver earned $5 million illegally over more than a decade. Still an assemblyman, the 71-year-old lawyer resigned his leadership post after his January arrest.

The judge rejected a recommendation by prosecutors to release the complaining juror, instead summoning jurors into the courtroom and reminding them, "Listen to and exchange views with your other jurors."

Caproni told lawyers she was further convinced that patience was the best remedy when another note emerged from another juror shortly afterward. In it, the juror said a fellow juror was seeking guidance on whether there was a code of conduct or ethics code that clearly stated whether receiving funds for something in return is illegal.

"It seems there is some deliberation going on," the judge told lawyers. "It's too early to throw in the towel."

___

Associated Press Writer Larry Neumeister contributed to this report.