Bell trial: Judge asks juror if he understands English

Judge Kathleen Kennedy
Judge Kathleen Kennedy in court during earlier Bell proceedings.
(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

A Superior Court judge urged the jury in the Bell corruption case to continue deliberating Tuesday after one juror complained that another member of the panel seemed “confused” and might be struggling to understand English.

In a note to Judge Kathleen Kennedy, Juror No. 12 said that the other panelist -- identified only as Juror No. 2 -- was having difficulty understanding the evidence and wanted to work alone rather than participate in group discussions.

The note said that the panel had spent 7-1/2 hours on one of the 13 counts against former Bell assistant city manager Angela Spaccia but that Juror No. 2 took an additional five hours to review the count and “still didn’t understand.”

FULL COVERAGE: Corruption in Bell


The panel has been deliberating Spaccia’s fate for six days, far shy of the 17 days it took another Superior Court jury to reach a verdict earlier this year in the trial of six former council members. One of the jurors in that case was removed for misconduct and the case ended chaotically, though the jury did ultimately reach a verdict.

Kennedy said she wasn’t concerned whether the juror was slow at making a decision but whether he could understand English and if he was participating with the other jurors. She said jury deliberation is not a solitary process.

The judge finally asked the bailiff to bring Juror No. 2 into the courtroom and asked him whether English was his first language.

“I’m fluent in English and Spanish,” the juror said.


Kennedy then asked the juror whether he had trouble understanding English and whether he was having trouble communicating with others.

The juror responded no to both questions

The juror was also asked if he was having difficulty working with other panelists.

“I said when everyone is talking I can’t think straight...,” the juror said.

Kennedy then instructed jurors to continue deliberating.


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