Oregon standoff juror questions impartiality of fellow juror

Another juror, identified as juror No. 4, had questioned juror No. 11's impartiality in a note to the judge Tuesday.

Juror 11 reportedly worked as a Bureau of Land Management ranch technician and firefighter decades ago.

A federal judge in the trial of those who occupied an OR wildlife refuge sent jurors home for the day after finding no indication that a member of the panel was biased. Juror 18, one of six alternates who attended every day of the six-week trial, was en route Wednesday afternoon from her home in central OR to the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse in downtown Portland.

"We ask that he simply be dismissed", Per Olson, David Fry's defense attorney, said in court.

But defense lawyers said they were not convinced, and filed a motion on Wednesday calling for a mistrial unless the judge agreed to dismiss the juror in question and restart deliberations with an alternate in his place.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys had reconvened Tuesday afternoon at the U.S. District Courthouse in downtown Portland after jurors submitted two questions to Brown. Asking the jurors if they had been influenced by the perceived bias of Juror 11 could adversely the work of the whole jury, she said. That's what voir dire - or jury selection process - is created to do. Brown has sent a note back to the jury asking them for clarification. That note questions whether the juror can be considered impartial.

"I'm racked with self-doubt (that this juror may have been on the defense's side), but when it comes down to it, you have to be confident in your case, in your cause and in the presentation that you've been able to make and in justice", Mumford said. Brown said opening the jury to further interrogation on the matter would have risked undermining the requisite confidentiality of its deliberations.

The judge first thing had her staff distribute thick copies of a 9 Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decision called United States v. Terry Christensen, which referenced the dismissal of a juror in that case during deliberations after the court received a series of handwritten notes from jury members complaining that one juror was unwilling to follow the law because he disagreed with it. The move brought deliberations in the case, which were in their fourth day, to a temporary halt.

"These issues aren't any easier to dispose of this morning as they were yesterday, " the judge told lawyers in the case.

The post Citing alleged bias, juror dismissed in OR standoff trial appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

"But the problem is, a question was raised and it can't be resolved without me questioning every one of you about your deliberative process, " the judge said, and that's unacceptable and could violate federal rules. They were allowed to leave for the day by noon Wednesday, ordered to return Thursday morning.

"Dismissing Juror 11 helps ensure the defendants' right to a fair trial and the appearance of a fair trial, " Kim said.

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