Mistrial in Ring Case
By Joe Palazzolo | October 15, 2009 1:40 pm
Kevin Ring (Getty Images)

Kevin Ring (Getty Images)

UPDATE: 4:40 p.m. Judge Huvelle has declared a mistrial on all counts. When Huvelle asked whether any further deliberation might result in a verdict, the jury foreman answered, simply: “No, your honor.”

Prosecutors made it clear the department will pursue the charges.

“Looks like we’ll be doing this all again,” said Michael Leotta, the Appellate Chief in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland, before the jury entered the courtroom.

Ring, the first second Abramoff associate to go to trial rather than plead guilty, declined to comment as he left the courtroom.

Huvelle scheduled a status hearing for Monday. Ring’s lawyer, Miller & Chevalier’s Andrew Wise, said he would argue “vociferously” against going to trial in the next 70 days.

He noted the Supreme Court’s decision to take up three cases — including an appeal from former Enron executive Jeffrey Skilling – exploring the scope of the “honest services” law. Ring is charged with depriving the taxpayers of the honest services of employees in the legislative and executive branches of government. The Court’s decision could impact his case and many others.

Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said during a panel discussion Thursday morning that the Justice Department has not instituted a moratorium on the charge pending the Court’s review.

After declaring a mistrial, Huvelle asked the jurors to discuss the case behind closed doors with her and the lawyers.

***

On their eighth day of deliberations, jurors in the trial of ex-lobbyist Kevin Ring, a former associate of Jack Abramoff, told a federal judge Thursday that they are “irrevocably blocked on a final unanimous verdict.”

The disclosure, in a note to U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle, comes a day after both prosecutors and Ring’s defense lawyers urged the court to declare a mistrial — a request she declined grant.

However, Huvelle appeared to warm to the idea Thursday, telling the lawyers — absent the jury — that she was thinking of declaring a mistrial on seven of the eight counts Ring faces.

Ring is charged with conspiracy, giving illegal gratuities and depriving taxpayers of the honest services of public officials. Prosecutors say he lavished Justice Department officials, members of Congress and their staff with meals and tickets to concerts and sporting events in return for helping Ring’s clients.

On Tuesday, the jury told Huvelle it had reached a verdict on the eighth count involving a payment of $5,000 to a credit union account controlled by the wife of former California Republican Rep. John Doolittle.

In the intervening days, some of the jurors appear to have had a change of heart. In the note to Huvelle Thursday, the jury foreman said the deadlock was complete.

“We foresee no change in this status after six-plus days of deliberation and think unanimity for this jury is impossible,” the jury foreman wrote.

In a second note to Huvelle, the foreman said the jury had resolved to consider count eight only — but not until after lunch.

We’ll keep you posted.

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