NEW YORK – Jurors in the Tyco trial were sent back to the deliberating room after the judge denied a request for a mistrial, calling such a move "inappropriate" after six months of testimony and after meeting with a panelist whose behavior has caused a furor.
Judge Michael Obus on Monday said he had spoken with the juror, a 79-year-old woman who had left the impression on some court watchers that she was holding out for acquittal. He determined she could continue to deliberate properly.
"It seems to me that it would be inappropriate to declare a mistrial when all 12 jurors, who have devoted six months of their lives to this trial, are prepared to continue," he said.
The jury was to begin its ninth day of work on Tuesday.
The trial against former Tyco International (TYC) chief L. Dennis Kozlowski (search) and former chief financial officer Mark Swartz (search) was thrown into turmoil last week when jurors told the judge that the atmosphere in the jury room had become "poisonous." A note to the judge said the source of the acrimony was a juror who "does not have an open mind" and had "stopped deliberating in a good faith."
Juror No. 4 became the object of intense scrutiny when some news organizations reported that she had made an "OK" gesture directed at the defense while walking to the jury box on Friday.
The New York Post featured a sketch on its Saturday cover depicting her making a clear "OK" gesture. It called her a "paranoid socialite" and "batty blueblood." The Wall Street Journal's Web site also identified her by name.
Yet what gesture Juror No. 4 made, or whether she intended to make a gesture at all, was still in dispute. An Associated Press reporter witnessed the gesture but did not interpret it as an "OK" sign.
Defense lawyers said they had never seen the gesture. Prosecutors also told reporters they hadn't seen it, and the defense claimed prosecutors were only aware of it because they'd been alerted by reporters.
Obus said the juror told him "that nothing that has happened will, from her point of view, prevent her from deliberating in good conscience with the other jurors."
The Tyco defendants are accused of stealing $170 million in unauthorized compensation and taking another $430 million by inflating the value of Tyco stock. They face 32 counts of grand larceny, falsifying business records, conspiracy and securities fraud and could each face up to 30 years in prison if convicted.
The defense argued that the two men earned every dime and that the board of directors and the company's auditors knew about the compensation and never objected.
Late Monday, jurors sent a note asking to see a Swartz memo to Kozlowski about a board-approved Tyco relocation plan, and they asked the judge to repeat some instructions on the charge of falsifying business records.
"Much water has passed under the bridge since last Thursday, and we would like our recollections refreshed," the jurors wrote. Thursday was when jurors first alerted Obus to a "poisonous" atmosphere in the jury room.
The jurors also asked Monday for all exhibits related to apartments in 1 Central Park West, a tower owned by Donald Trump, for which Swartz put down deposits that the company later wrote off as expenses.