Juror Rebels at NY Assembly Speaker’s Trial

25 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

As Deliberations Begin in N.Y. Assemblyman Sheldon Silver’s Trial, a Juror Asks to Be Excused.

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Deliberations in the corruption trial of ex-New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver began with drama Tuesday when a juror claimed that other jurors accused her of failing to use her common sense, leaving her feeling “very, very uncomfortable.” “I’m feeling pressured, stressed out,” the juror wrote in a note to U.S.Less than two hours after jurors convened on Tuesday to decide whether Assemblyman Sheldon Silver, once one of the most powerful politicians in New York State, was guilty of fraud, there were signs that their deliberations had already taken a contentious turn. A juror asked to be excused, saying her heart was pounding, that she can’t think straight, and that she was being criticized as lacking common sense, according to U.S.

Silver is on trial for allegedly using his official position to receive nearly $4 million in bribes and kickbacks. “One of the jurors is having difficulty distinguishing whether or not exchanging state funds for something in return is illegal,” the note read, which requested a “code of conduct or ethics” to shed light on the question. “It’s too early for a juror to throw in the towel,” Caproni said, saying she instead would tell all jurors to “be respectful of everyone’s view.” 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.

Silver has pleaded not guilty to bribery and extortion charges. “My heart is pounding and my head feels weird,” she said. “I am so stressed out right now that I can’t even write normally. I need to leave!” After a prosecutor recommended she be released as a juror, the judge said it was too early to do so, and said she would urge jurors to respectfully exchange views. The defense argued with Judge Caproni, saying that if she reiterated specific details of federal law that it could be seen as her advocating for the government’s position.

Prosecutors, however, supported Judge Caproni on the suggested wording of the additional instructions, which the judge subsequently provided to the jury. After taking a break, Judge Caproni summoned the jury back into the courtroom around 2 p.m., and addressed some of the questions and concerns raised in the notes. In closing arguments Monday, the jury heard the case boil down to two conflicting portrayals of the once-powerful Democrat: one as a greedy lawmaker who enriched himself with bribery and another as a seasoned politician who played by the rules regarding outside income. “Why did Sheldon Silver do it?

Without indicating the contents of that note, in case the other jurors were unaware that it had been sent, Judge Caproni talked broadly about how deliberations should take place. The evidence, he added, “shows that Sheldon Silver was a master of every form of deception — lying, keeping secrets, even splitting hairs.” He also took aim at the defense’s accusation that overzealous prosecutors were trying to criminalize behavior that’s politics as usual in the Assembly. “Let’s dispense with the nonsense … and let’s talk about the evidence, which Sheldon Silver tried desperately to keep secret for years,” he said.

Dean Skelos and his son at a nearby courthouse on charges that the Republican badgered companies reliant upon his legislative support to funnel more than $300,000 to the son. (TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries.

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