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Judge in Tyco case unseals transcripts of mistrial meeting

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Judge in Tyco case unseals transcripts of mistrial meeting

  • Ruth Jordan, the now-notorious juror who was holding out to acquit two executives of Tyco International, told the judge in a closed-door conversation that she was “very, very scared” after receiving an anonymous phone call and a letter from a stranger.

April 8, 2004 — Acting quickly on a request filed Monday by news organizations, the judge in the criminal case against two former Tyco International executives released transcripts yesterday of his closed-door conversations with Ruth Jordan, the infamous “Juror No. 4.” Jordan had become upset during deliberations after receiving a letter and anonymous phone call at home, ultimately prompting a mistrial.

The news groups had argued that the press has a First Amendment right of access to transcripts of the discussions, which took place in Obus’s chambers on March 29 and April 2. After a hearing yesterday, Obus agreed. The transcripts were released last night.

They reveal that Jordan, 79, told Obus she was “very, very scared” after receiving an anonymous phone call and an insulting letter from a stranger. Jordan said she feared she would be regarded as “some kind of pariah” unless she voted to convict the defendants.

Her distraught mental state prompted Obus to declare a mistrial last Friday — a stunning end to a high-profile prosecution that had consumed more than six months of the jury’s time.

The letter remains under court seal, pending a grand jury investigation into whether the author should be indicted for jury tampering. According to a story in yesterday’s Washington Post , police have said the author — whose identity is not public — claims that he did not realize the jury was still deliberating.

“Juror No. 4” received substantial media attention during deliberations as a likely holdout for acquittal. But two newspapers, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Post , broke from journalistic convention by revealing Jordan’s name after she made a hand gesture in open court that some saw as an “OK” sign to the Tyco defendants.

Jordan has since denied making the gesture, but acknowledged that she was the lone juror holding out for acquittal.

Some media critics complained that the newspapers helped create the mistrial by publishing Jordan’s name during jury deliberations — an unusual, but not illegal, move. However, Jordan has since said publicly that, contrary to some initial reports, she would have held out for acquittal on all charges no matter what. If true, the proceedings would have ended up in a hung jury.

The news organizations that sought release of the transcripts were The New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsday, Dow Jones & Co., NBC, Forbes, Bloomberg, Reuters and The Associated Press.

(New York v. Kozlowski; New York v. Swartz; Media Counsel: Victor A. Kovner and Carolyn K. Foley, Davis Wright & Tremaine, New York) JM

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© 2004 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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