Thursday, February 14, 2008

Bobby Cutts headline misleading

10:15 a.m. This morning's front-page Beacon Journal headline of "Cutts Jury indicates it has reached one verdict" is misleading at best. It's a flat leap based on a hypothetical that jurors posed last night to Judge Claude Brown.

Here's the facts: A short time ago, courthouse spokesman Mark Warner distributed copies of all questions asked by the jurors.

At 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, the jury submitted this written question: "If count one has been decided and signed by the jurors, and a juror is replaced the next day, would count 1 need to be redeliberated?" (see picture)

That is NOT the same as saying they've reached a verdict on count one, which in this case is the aggravated murder of Jessie Marie Davis. If anything, it appears to be a hypothetical with the jurors trying to get guidance on what to do if a juror needs replaced after a decision has been reached on one or more charges but with others still undecided.

Don't blame reporter Phil Trexler; he doesn't write the headlines. He wrote that "... in one they (the jury) insuated they had reached a verdict on the first count ..." None of the media was granted access to the written questions until this morning, so Phil's writing would support what was heard in open court last night. Still, the ABJ's definititive headline, which was picked up by Cleveland radio stations today, isn't what it appears.

By the way, Judge Brown's answer: "No alternate juror shall be substituted during any deliberation." That answer leaves many of us guessing as to its context as well.

Later, jurors sent a note to disregard because they'd worked out their issue.

Stay tuned. EM

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