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Tyco Defense Again Seeks Mistrial

From Reuters

A furor over a juror in the corruption trial of two former Tyco International Ltd. executives prompted defense attorneys to renew efforts to win a mistrial Tuesday while jurors deliberated a ninth day without reaching a verdict.

Lawyers for former Tyco Chairman L. Dennis Kozlowski and ex-finance chief Mark Swartz argued that anonymous comments in Internet chat rooms about an apparent holdout juror could prevent the jury from reaching a fair verdict in one of the biggest cases of U.S. corporate corruption.

Kozlowski and Swartz are accused of looting Tyco of $600 million through unauthorized payments and the pumping up of Tyco stock.

The juror, a 79-year-old retired teacher and attorney, became the center of controversy in the trial after she gave Kozlowski what some media reported as an “OK” sign last week.

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She was publicly identified by two news organizations, with the New York Post labeling her “Ms. Trial” in a front-page story.

The juror has since become the subject of scathing attacks on the Internet, defense attorney Charles Stillman argued Tuesday as he sought a mistrial.

“It’s staggering to understand the venom, the outrageous statements made,” Stillman said.

The insults could hinder the juror’s ability to deliberate in good faith, the attorney said. Notes from the jury last week indicated a majority was leaning toward guilty verdicts in the 32-count indictment, with the juror in question as the possible holdout.

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New York state Supreme Court Judge Michael Obus considered the latest mistrial motion but gave no ruling. He rejected defense motions Monday that the intense media exposure was grounds for mistrial.

The ninth day of deliberations concluded with a lengthy read-back of Swartz’s testimony about various Tyco bonus and relocation loan programs. Prosecutors say Kozlowski and Swartz illegally tapped the programs for tens of millions of dollars.


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