After a day and a half of deliberations, the jury in former USC assistant football coach Todd McNair's defamation lawsuit against the NCAA passed a note to Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Frederick Shaller on Tuesday afternoon: "What do we do if we are deadlocked?"
The apparent impasse raised an unwelcome prospect for both parties after waiting almost seven years for the three-week trial.
"I got the impression there was some more than just gentle disagreement in the jury room," Shaller told the jury at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse.
In response to a question from Shaller, the jury foreperson said they were split 8-4, one vote from a verdict, but didn't give further details about which way the group was leaning.
Shaller excused the nine women and three men on the jury early and suggested they resume deliberations Wednesday "with a fresh outlook on life."
"I think that it would behoove all of us in the legal process and in fairness to both sides that we give it another shot," the judge said.