The judge in the Paul Manafort trial was so concerned about chatty jurors that he considered declaring a mistrial in the middle of the fraud case against the former Trump campaign chairman.
Judge T.S. Ellis had learned that some jurors during the trial were commenting on the case and politics, and one juror stated “the defense was weak,” according to newly unsealed court transcripts.
Jurors are prohibited from discussing the case until deliberations begin.
Ellis interviewed each juror before deciding not to declare a mistrial.
The concerns about chatty jury members explains why the trial was delayed for five hours on Aug. 10 and continued with interruptions for the next three days.
Ellis also discussed the revelations with the defense and prosecution, expressing his concerns about jurors violating the rules, which are meant to keep jurors from influencing each other before the closing arguments.
Manafort’s defense attorney, Richard Wrestling, argued the chit-chat was a sufficient reason to declare a mistrial.
“This clearly is crossing the line if it, in fact, happened,” Wrestling told the judge. “It suggests someone who has left beside — behind the presumption of innocence the defendant is entitled to until the evidence is all in.”
After one-on-one interviews with the jurors, the judge decided the jury had maintained its objectivity and wasn’t influencing each other.