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Simpson jury renews deliberations

Simpson

February 3, 1997
Web posted at: 1:40 p.m. EST

SANTA MONICA, California (CNN) -- Amid claims of possible jury tampering, the reconstituted jury in the O.J. Simpson civil case resumed deliberations Monday morning. The defense also asked for a hearing at 1:30 p.m. (4:30 p.m. EST). A court spokeswoman said she did not know the purpose of the hearing but that it would not disrupt deliberations.

The jury deliberated about four hours on Friday after an alternate was brought in. The new juror -- an Asian-American male -- replaced Rosemary Caraway, 62, last week.

She was dismissed for failing to disclose that her daughter works for the prosecutor in the Simpson criminal trial. Caraway was the original jury's only black woman.

Jurors in disarray

jury box

Regarding the new juror, jury consultant Mark Gerard said, "Some of the jurors probably built their alliances with others and now I think maybe they're in disarray."

"The other 11 jurors are looking at him like 'you just follow us,' so I'm sure it's an uncomfortable position for that 12th juror," said criminal defense attorney Milton Grimes.

Even though the jury had deliberated three days, Judge Hiroshi Fujisaki told the panel to start again -- from scratch.

But civil rights attorney Leo Terrell does not believe that will happen. "This jury ... will probably inform this new juror what has been going on. They should select a new foreperson if they start from scratch. It won't happen."

Legally, the jury members can structure their deliberations any way they choose, once inside the locked jury room.

"I suspect because of the nature of this case that this jury is taking their job really seriously and has started from scratch," said JoEllan Dimitrius, a jury consultant for the defense in Simpson's criminal trial.

Possible jury tampering

The claims of jury tampering center on allegations that two jurors from the Simpson criminal trial faxed a letter to at least one member of the civil trial jury, vouching for the services of a media agent.

Simpson, acquitted of murder charges in the 1994 deaths of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman, is being sued by relatives of the victims.

In an interview with CNN, former criminal trial juror Gina Rosborough said Sunday the letter was sent by her agent, but that she didn't know how it was sent to the civil jury during deliberations.

"I did nothing wrong," she said.

Rosborough denied the letter was intended to sway the civil trial jury, or as a reference for her agent. The letter was written, because "we wanted to help them out emotionally after the trial," she said. "Emotional support was our main focus. We want them to know we've been there."

Rosborough is working on a book about the civil trial with Brenda Moran, another criminal trial juror, who co-signed the letter. Moran has been placed on administrative leave from her position as a computer technician for the Los Angeles County Court.

Other cases as precedent

Jury disruption has occurred before in other high-profile cases.

During the second trial of Eric and Lyle Menendez, two jury members were replaced for medical reasons.

Hillings

At the time, the panel had been deliberating four days, said former Menendez juror Leslie Hillings. One member was close to a verdict. But the panel started over and took care not to influence the new jurors, she said.

"We discussed things as a group, but we would never say 'we decided this or we decided that' to influence them in any way," Hillings said.

The Reginald Denny beatings trial was interrupted twice during deliberations and a jury member replaced each time.

In the trial of "Night Stalker" Richard Ramirez, one jury member was replaced -- after she was found murdered in her home.

The replacement of a juror in the Simpson case may not be unusual. But Simpson's two trials have generated so many unexpected twists that, as one expert said: it seems if something can go wrong it will.

Correspondent Jim Hill contributed to this report.  
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