Judge T.S. Ellis III set Room 900 at the Albert V. Bryan courthouse in Alexandria, Va., abuzz just before 5 p.m. Monday when he announced that the jury in the trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort had asked to extend their deliberations for the day to 6:15 p.m. — 45 minutes longer than they have been dismissed previously.
Reporters jockeyed for prime seats. Some created handmade signs indicating through a glass window to their colleagues just outside the courtroom a guilty or not guilty verdict for each of the 18 charges Manafort faces on tax evasion and bank fraud.
But, after its third full day of deliberations, the jury still needs more time, Ellis announced.
“Put it out of your mind,” the judge told jurors as he dismissed the courtroom for the day. “We’ll see you again tomorrow at 9:30.”
There’s no guarantee that the request to extend their deliberation Monday means the jury is close to issuing its final verdict.
They could have thought they were close to the finish line Monday. Perhaps they’d made progress on one or two of the 18 charges and wanted to come to a decision on those before breaking for the night.
No one knows except for the 12 people in the room why they asked for 45 more minutes Monday — not prosecutors or the defense team, not Ellis, and not the severe Mr. Flood, the court security officer charged with guarding the secrets of their notebooks.
The six men and six women on the panel must reach a consensus on each charge before breaking from the jury room for good.
Most experts expected the jury would need multiple days to contemplate their decision.
“Because this is a ‘paper case’ with a number of charges, complicated financial records, and a lay jury not selected for its understanding of international financial transactions, we would expect a medium-length to long deliberation process — at least a couple days — simply for the jurors to work through all the evidence and discuss each charge separately,” lawyer and professor Seth Abramson said in an email Friday.
“Quick verdicts are not generally associated with lengthy, document-heavy white-collar prosecutions,” he said.
Watch: Trump comments on the Manafort trial, his decision to revoke security clearances and Robert S. Muller III’s Russia investigation.