Lewis denies mistrial motion
March 22, 2010 Leave a comment
A Dauphin County judge has denied a mistrial motion in the corruption case of former House Democratic Whip Mike Veon and three one-time aides.
Lawyers for three of the four defendants contend Judge Richard Lewis violated Pennsylvania law by replacing a sick juror with an alternate and then re-setting deliberations on Friday.
Joel Sansone, who’s representing Mike Veon, says the switch is definite grounds for appeal.
Lewis denied the defense’s mistrial motion, saying his reading of the Superior Court decision that sets the framework for a juror switch justifies his ruling. He also pointed out the defense didn’t object to his decision on Friday.
Defense lawyers are concerned because the jury asked the judge last week whether they could render a verdict if they had “come to a decision on one person.” That was before deliberations started again from scratch.
The defense is also convinced the jury may be deadlocked. The motion quoted a note from the foreman to Judge Lewis saying, “We are having spiritual and moral issues that I do not know how to resolve. There are barriers and biases that cannot be hurdled.” Karl Rominger, who represents Annamarie Peretta-Rosepink, says that’s the sign of a possible hung jury.
The note was written before deliberations were re-set. Possible deadlock may have been broken, though — the jury has requested to work until eight o’clock tonight. Uninformed and highly speculative analysis from the Capitol press corps interprets that to mean the twelve panelists may feel like a verdict is within reach.