Juror dismissed in Bell, Calif., corruption case

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 28, 2013 at 8:13 pm •  Published: February 28, 2013
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — A weeping juror was dismissed for misconduct Thursday during deliberations in the public corruption trial of six former officials charged stealing from the suburban city of Bell.

The elderly woman admitted she looked up information online and had her daughter research what would constitute coercion by other jurors. Her dismissal came just days after she asked to be bumped from the panel because other jurors were harassing her.

An alternate juror was later chosen, and Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy ordered the panel to start anew as if previous deliberations had never occurred. They retired for the day after about 2 1/2 hours and were to resume talks Friday.

The former mayor and five city council members are on trial on charges of inflating part-time salaries that should have been closer to $8,000 a year to nearly $100,000. Prosecutors claimed the officials boosted their pay by serving on boards that hardly ever met and nearly bankrupted the tiny Los Angeles surburb.

The defendants said they earned the pay by working long hours and they blamed City Manager Robert Rizzo for the city's plight.

The jury, which has about 100 verdict forms to fill out, had been in its fifth day of deliberations after a three-week trial.

Deliberations were troubled from the outset when the woman identified only as juror No. 3 asked to be dismissed Monday. The judge asked her to return to deliberations and try to get along with the others.

On Thursday, the jury sent a note to the judge saying they were at an impasse and could not reach verdicts. Then, one juror sent a subsequent note reporting that juror No. 3 told panelists she had called her personal attorney to seek information on what to do about being coerced by other jurors.

The judge summoned defendants and lawyers to her courtroom and asked the juror to explain her actions. The woman, who was verging on tears, said she never actually called a lawyer.



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