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Judge to Manafort jury: Keep deliberating

After jurors in the Paul Manafort trial asked what would happen if they can't reach a consensus on one of the 18 counts Manafort is charged with, Judge T.S. Ellis told them to keep working.

Posted: Aug 22, 2018 4:21 AM
Updated: Aug 22, 2018 4:32 AM

The jury in former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's trial is now in its fourth day of deliberations. Conventional wisdom would tell you that the longer the jury goes on without a decision, the better it is for Manafort.

That's certainly the idea being pushed by Manafort's side. Following the decision of the judge to send the jury home without a verdict on Monday night, Manafort lawyer Kevin Downing said this: "Mr. Manafort's very happy to hear that, and this was a very good day."

On its face, the logic here makes sense. If it was such an open-and-shut case, the jury would have come back with a guilty verdict on the first -- or, at the latest, second day -- of deliberations, right?

Wrong. Or, at least, very likely wrong.

While we non-lawyers have learned from the police prodecurals that flood our TV airwaves that extended jury deliberations signal some sort of deep divide within the jury that is always a good thing for the defense, actual lawyers -- like CNN's legal analyst Laura Coates -- see something far different at work in the extended deliberations.

And what they see is a deeply complex case, involving 18 charges of a variety of financial crimes that saw more than two dozen witnesses for the prosecution testify over 10 days.

"Since each charge has normally four or more elements, you can surmise that a jury of 12 would have to agree not to just 18 charges," explained Coates. "They have to agree that the government proved 72 things."

Which, if you think about it, nicely explains why the Manafort jury a) isn't done yet and b) isn't necessarily deeply divided about whether Manafort is guilty or not guilty of the charges against him.

Think of it this way. In a murder trial, the jury is tasked, typically, with answering just a simple question: Did he do it or not? While the stakes are incredibly high -- a murder conviction could mean anything from life in prison to the death penalty -- the question being asked of the jury is totally straightforward. Either the evidence presented proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the murder or it doesn't.

That's not at all the case here. Not only does the jury have to consider each and every charge, they also have to consider whether Manafort did it with malice or knowingly -- and whether the government proved he did so beyond any reasonable doubt. And they have to do it unanimously. (On Tuesday morning, the jury sent a note to the judge, asking what would happen if it can't reach consensus on one of the 18 counts it is deliberating. The judge responded that it is the jurors' duty to agree upon a verdict "if you can do so," without violating their own convictions.)

What the Manafort trial should remind us is that life is not like "Law and Order." Not every case is clear-cut. Not every defendant provides the smoking gun halfway through the trial. And not every jury renders a verdict just before the end of the hour.

This is an extremely complicated case -- in both subject matter and the charges being leveled at Manafort. Which is why no one should bemoan the time the jury is taking or draw any conclusions about what the time they are taking means for Manafort's chances of getting off.

Republican consultant Dan Hazelwood put that idea nicely on Twitter Monday night. "People declaring a theoretical verdict in the Manafort case as the sign of something evil being done make me ill," Hazelwood tweeted. "It looks like 12 citizens are being methodical and responsible to their civic duty. This is how the system works, stop attacking it."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 245847

Reported Deaths: 5356
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto16717168
Hinds15748310
Harrison12806188
Rankin10334204
Jackson9996172
Lee8666135
Madison7994158
Jones6112108
Forrest5826117
Lauderdale5672174
Lowndes5186106
Lafayette482792
Lamar471162
Washington4700122
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Oktibbeha384279
Panola357274
Pontotoc356552
Monroe3463101
Union334755
Warren334692
Marshall333264
Neshoba3310149
Pearl River313891
Leflore2969104
Lincoln290185
Sunflower275868
Tate264759
Alcorn257850
Itawamba257058
Pike254876
Hancock246957
Prentiss240047
Scott238743
Copiah235649
Yazoo235054
Tippah233845
Simpson230166
Leake226764
Coahoma219054
Grenada213970
Covington207171
Marion203371
Adams200065
Winston196260
George195937
Wayne193029
Attala190958
Newton185142
Chickasaw179943
Tishomingo179059
Holmes167467
Jasper163533
Clay155632
Stone138818
Tallahatchie137033
Clarke135160
Calhoun132021
Smith117322
Yalobusha112534
Walthall110536
Noxubee108922
Greene108229
Montgomery107134
Carroll102320
Lawrence99817
Perry98631
Amite95725
Webster90024
Claiborne84125
Tunica84021
Jefferson Davis82925
Humphreys80324
Benton79722
Kemper75620
Quitman6678
Franklin64613
Choctaw59412
Wilkinson57424
Jefferson52019
Sharkey42317
Issaquena1576
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 414583

Reported Deaths: 5945
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson60842887
Mobile29590538
Madison26466183
Tuscaloosa20537267
Montgomery18562304
Shelby18181112
Baldwin15841177
Lee1212097
Morgan12002112
Etowah11488142
Calhoun10863197
Marshall10048106
Houston8405123
Cullman792294
Limestone785073
Elmore7670101
DeKalb757282
St. Clair7417120
Lauderdale740282
Talladega6036108
Walker5834176
Jackson571937
Colbert522270
Blount521980
Autauga507555
Coffee431456
Dale388278
Franklin362145
Chilton332965
Covington325567
Russell318910
Escambia309842
Dallas297988
Chambers275769
Clarke272933
Tallapoosa2591107
Pike245829
Lawrence239345
Marion238649
Winston222535
Bibb211347
Geneva196331
Marengo196329
Pickens195331
Hale172542
Barbour169636
Butler166958
Fayette164026
Cherokee158330
Henry149219
Monroe143617
Randolph137635
Washington135426
Clay124446
Crenshaw117444
Lamar116819
Cleburne115123
Macon111935
Lowndes107935
Wilcox99921
Bullock97128
Perry95019
Conecuh92820
Sumter89126
Greene75123
Coosa59814
Choctaw50824
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