GREENSBORO, N.C. – As jury deliberations in the John Edwards trial dragged through their seventh day, the judge in the case gave the panel a stern reminder of the ground rules Tuesday amid questions about potential problems with the jurors.
"All of your deliberations are to take place in the jury room and only when all 12 of you are present," Judge Catherine Eagles said. "It is the result of your common judgment and wisdom. You act together."
While it remains unclear what prompted the judge's mid-day admonishment, it occurred just a couple hours after she met privately with lawyers on both sides of the case to discuss an undisclosed "juror issue." The jury later wrapped up deliberations for the day, preparing to pick it up again Wednesday morning.
The discussion between the judge and the lawyers Tuesday was a continuation of a closed-door session last week that prompted much speculation.
On Friday, an ABC News producer published a blog suggesting one of the female alternate jurors might be flirting with Edwards, by exchanging smiles with him in court. But other journalists in the courtroom noted that Edwards, a skilled trial lawyer, attempts to smile at, and make eye contact with, all the jurors as they enter the courtroom. Some return his glances, while others look away.
All four alternate jurors started raising eyebrows late last week as they arrived in court wearing color-coordinated shirts. On Thursday, they wore yellow. On Friday, they wore red. However, on Tuesday there did not appear to be any coordinated color scheme among the alternates.
It remains unclear whether the "juror issue" had anything to do with fashion, flirtation or after-hours deliberation. A more mundane possibility could pertain to scheduling conflicts, as the deliberations continue through the last week of May and potentially into early June.
Acknowledging the high school graduation season, Eagles asked jurors about their schedules for the next two weeks.
The former Democratic presidential candidate is facing six federal charges. They are related to whether he violated campaign finance law by allowing nearly $1 million to be directed toward hiding his pregnant mistress during the 2008 campaign.