The jury in the federal extortion trial of Rep. Walter R. Tucker III on Wednesday asked for clarification of the court's instructions on entrapment.
In a memo to Judge Consuelo B. Marshall after seven days of deliberations, the jurors asked what it means to be a "government agent" and whether the prosecution's star witness, John Macardican, fits the definition.
The government has accused Tucker of extorting $30,000 in bribes from Macardican while serving as mayor of Compton in 1991 and 1992. At the time, Macardican was working undercover for the FBI while seeking permission to build a $250-million waste-to-energy conversion project in Compton.
Tucker, a two-term Democratic congressman, contends that he was the victim of illegal entrapment by Macardican and his FBI handlers.
Instructions read to the jury before it retired to deliberate stated that when entrapment is alleged, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was predisposed to commit the crime before being contacted by government agents and that government agents did not induce the defendant to commit the crime.
The court instructed prosecution and defense attorneys Wednesday to confer by telephone in an effort to reach agreement on answers that could be given to jurors when they resume deliberations today.