Friday, May 4, 2012

Jurors fight during deliberations in Espada trial

By MITCHEL MADDUX, KEVIN SHEEHAN and DAN MANGAN 

Last Updated: 4:54 PM, May 4, 2012
Posted: 4:12 PM, May 4, 2012
Ex-state Sen. Pedro Espada Jr.'s embezzlement trial today again turned tumultuous as a jurors told the judge that another juror has "screamed, cursed” and called a third juror names – and earlier had vowed that "deliberations better not take more than one day."
"It feels hostile and . . . being bullied due to different views,” the juror wrote in a bombshell note to Brooklyn federal court Judge Frederic Block.
The note comes two days after several jurors told Block that one juror had "refused" to deliberate about the criminal charges against the former Bronx political powerhouse Espada since virtually the start of deliberations last Monday.

Gregory P. Mango
Pedro Espada, Jr.

That note Wednesday lead Block to admonish the entire jury that it was their obligation to fairly evaluate the evidence and deliberate by listening to each other.
Today's note said, "One particular juror [wanted] to leave even before” Block gave the jury its charge on Monday.
“That juror has stated this deliberation better not taking more than a day [sic],” the note said.
“This particular juror screamed, cursed, name call another juror on day two,” the note said.
After receiving the note, Block spoke privately to the juror who wrote it, out of the public’s presence, and then afterward called out the entire 12-member jury to speak to them.
Block alternately praised them for wading through a slew of exhibits they have requested to see, and cautioned them against getting too heated in their deliberations.
"Sometimes I walk by the jury room and I hear raised voices," Block told them. "I think it's terribly important in the heat of the moment to be civil to each other.
"Continue with your deliberations and just cool it and keep the volume down," the judge said.
"I'm very proud you're working so hard on the case," he said. "Keep up the good work and continue deliberating."
Block sent them back to the jury room to continue what little was left of the day, which was already due to end early, at 4:30 p.m., because one of the jurors had a family emergency.
Espada and his son Pedro Gautier Espada are accused of looting Soundview Healthcare Network – the Bronx health charity Espada Jr. founded decades ago – of hundreds of thousands of dollars by having the non-profit pay for their lavish personal expenses, which are described or accounted for as legitimate business expenses.
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