Manafort Jury Says It’s Struggling to Reach Unanimous Verdict

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) — The jury in the financial fraud trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort sent a note to the judge on the fourth day of deliberations saying it’s struggling to reach a unanimous verdict and wants further instructions.

Jurors in the high profile trial resumed deliberating Tuesday morning and sent a note to U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III about 90 minutes later.

The note said, “Your honor if we cannot come to a consensus for a single count, how should we fill in the verdict form? What does that mean for verdict. And we will need another verdict form.”

Ellis told attorneys — without the jurors present — that he can accept a partial verdict, but will first bring the jury back into the courtroom so that he can read them the instructions from a case called U.S. v Sawyer.

Before the jurors came in, Judge Ellis asked the attorneys if they had any objections to the instructions he was prepared to give. The special counsel’s team of attorneys did not but defense  attorney Kevin Downing did.

Downing suggested that perhaps jurors be given a new form with a third option of “hung” as to each count.

“They shouldn’t be misled to think a hung jury is not appropriate,” Downing said.

Ellis then asked prosecutor Greg Andres for his take.

Andres told the judge he wished to see the jurors continue deliberating.

After the jury entered the courtroom, Ellis read from the Sawyer instructions.

“Let me express a few thoughts to you – this case, like all cases is important and if you fail to agree on a verdict, the case is left open and undecided,” the judge said.

Any future jury would be selected in the same manner they have been chosen, he added.

“There’s no reason to believe that a more suitable jury would be able to decide this,” Ellis said.

In the course of deliberations, Ellis urged jurors not to hesitate when reexamining their views and encouraged them to examine their questions with “candor and frankness.”

“In conferring with each other, each of you should pay respect to views of the other … If there is a doubt in your mind, you must ask if it is a reasonable one?” the judge said.

“You’re not partisans. You are judges in this case,” he added. “You may be leisurely in your deliberations and take all the time that is necessary.”

Ellis said if the jurors can’t come to a unanimous decision on this one count, he’ll ask where they stand on the other 17 counts Manafort faces.

Prosecutors claim Manafort collected $65 million in foreign bank accounts from 2010 to 2014 and spent more than $15 million on high-end clothing, real estate, landscaping and other big-ticket items.

They also allege he lied to banks in order to take out more than $20 million in loans after his Ukrainian political work dried up in 2015, and they accused him of hiding the foreign bank accounts from federal authorities.

Manafort received loans from the Federal Savings Bank after one of its executives sought a position in the Trump campaign and administration, prosecutors said.

If convicted on all charges, Manafort faces a sentence of up to 305 years in prison.

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