ALBANY – Jurors in the Joseph Percoco corruption trial deliberated for a fifth day Thursday, two days after the the foreperson said panel members were deadlocked and three jurors said they were done giving up any more time on a trial that began Jan. 22.
No verdict was reached.
After being pressed by U.S. District Court Judge Valerie E. Caproni to keep trying – and given a snow day Wednesday – the tone from jurors appeared to change dramatically from 48 hours earlier.
Jury notes offered the only clues. “Good morning, Your Honor,’’ came the first note Thursday morning. The juror asked if the trial’s full transcript could be made available. The judge later indicated that was unlikely, given the amount of redaction work that would be needed to take out sidebars and other sessions without jurors present.
Another note came in the afternoon from juror number 10. “Your Honor, I am very popular with the justice system,’’ wrote one juror. It seems the juror had gotten another summons to appear as a jury in another court. “Is it possible to get a note to explain my absence,’’ the juror asked Caproni.
Whether the jury is now putting its head down to reach a verdict remains known only to jurors. On Tuesday, three jurors said they wanted to be dismissed. One talked of being “physically and emotionally” unable to continue. A fourth juror, the foreperson, said the sides were unable to agree on a verdict. The notes led one defense lawyer to ask for a mistrial, which Caproni denied.
With the jury not present, Caproni and the lawyers briefly discussed – without resolution – the prospects of whether the deliberations might have to proceed with just 11 jurors or with an alternate brought in.
“I think everybody has to be mindful that this jury has been here two weeks longer and going on three weeks longer than they expected, and we already have two jurors expressing real concerns about hardship so that substituting in a new juror and telling them to re-begin may cause more harm than good,’’ Caproni told the lawyers.
To accommodate personal issues, the jury has been on an abbreviated schedule this week, deliberating just five hours a day. Percoco, a longtime adviser to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, and three business executives are charged in a 10-count corruption case in which more than $300,000 in bribes was allegedly paid to Percoco by the executives in return for insider help with various issues that were pending before the Cuomo administration or state agencies.