Judge Sends Ring Jury Back to Work

Posted October 13, 2009 at 3:49pm

Jurors in the public corruption trial of former House-aide-turned-lobbyist Kevin Ring declared themselves “irrevocably deadlocked— Tuesday, stating in a note to the court that the 12-member panel cannot agree on seven of eight criminal counts.

U.S. District Judge Ellen Huvelle ordered the jury to continue deliberations during a brief hearing but dismissed the panel in mid-afternoon to “take a rest.—

“I don’t want you to despair,— Huvelle told the panel’s five men and seven women, informing the jurors that such disagreements are not uncommon. The jury made its declaration to the judge in a note she read in open court.

“This is never easy,— she told jurors. “But no one can do it better than you folks.—

Although the jurors indicated they reached a verdict on one count — a charge of “honest services wire fraud— based on a payment of $5,000 to Julie Doolittle, the wife of then-Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif.) — Huvelle allowed the panel to determine whether it would submit that decision. The jurors opted to defer unveiling that verdict after a brief private conference outside the courtroom.

Huvelle characterized the jury’s communication as “an intriguing note.— The missive concluded, she read, stating: “We seek your help in determining whether we should continue to deliberate.—

Ring, a former aide to both Doolittle and then-Sen. John Ashcroft (R-Mo.), was indicted in September 2008 on charges stemming from the influence-peddling investigation of his former boss, disgraced ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Jurors began deliberations Oct. 5, following a three-week trial during which former aides and other “Team Abramoff— lobbyists testified, including several who have struck plea bargains with federal prosecutors in charges related to the Abramoff investigation.