A judge today refused to undo the jury's work in the Mary Kate O'Connell trial, rejecting attempts to set aside the jury's finding that Seth Jacobs was responsible for the March 20, 1980, assault on Ms. O'Connell.
State Supreme Court Justice Thomas F. McGowan also refused to overturn the jury's verdict that Max and Helen Jacobs bore no responsibility for the attack in their former home on Nottingham Terrace.
McGowan ruled from the bench and denied lawyers the opportunity to address the court.
The judge, without explaining his reasoning, said he based it on his own understanding of the case through the four-week trial that ended Nov. 16. He also said he based it on legal briefs submitted by the Jacobses' attorneys, Richard T. Sullivan and Neil A. Goldberg, and Ms. O'Connell's lawyer, Ellen M. Krebs.
"The court feels very strongly the public purpose of a trial in this matter has been satisfied," McGowan said.
Jurors voted 5-1 to award Ms. O'Connell $800,000 after finding Seth Jacobs responsible under the rules of civil court trials, which only require a preponderance of evidence and not the more stringent level of proof in a criminal trial.
Criminal charges were never placed in the attack after Ms. O'Connell was unable to identify her assailant.
The jury voted 6-0 in the case against Max and Helen Jacobs, finding they were not aware of any "vicious propensities" on the part of their son and could not have been expected to protect Ms. O'Connell from him.
Today's ruling concerned only whether the jury's verdicts were consistent with the law and McGowan's instructions to the jury.
The case now moves to the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court, where the opposing attorneys will expand their arguments to include McGowan's rulings on evidence throughout the trial.
Attorneys on both sides declined to comment after today's proceedings.