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Mistrial Ruled in Fraud Case of Gov. Edwards

December 18, 1985|United Press International

NEW ORLEANS — Faced with a hung jury, a federal judge declared a mistrial today in the racketeering and fraud trial of Gov. Edwin W. Edwards, his brother and three business associates.

U.S. District Judge Marcel Livaudais gave attorneys until Jan. 15 to file additional post-trial motions to support their earlier requests for directed verdicts of acquittal.

Three other defendants were acquitted by the judge last week before the jury entered six days of deliberations.

Before the jury was called into the courtroom and discharged, Livaudais granted the motion for mistrial filed by defense attorney William Jeffress, who represented co-defendant Ronald Falgout.

Transcripts Requested

Livaudais said he granted the motion after the jury told him it could not break its deadlock without going over lengthy transcripts of trial testimony it had requested earlier in the day.

Livaudais said reading volumes of testimony back to the jury would be unworkable and denied the request before the lunch recess. He granted the mistrial as soon as court reconvened.

"I think at this time the jury has said unequivocally that they could not reach a verdict," Jeffress said earlier. "I think if the judge puts any more pressure on the jury at this point, they may decide the case on something other than the evidence."

Edwards, who had promised to resign if convicted, said earlier today he would not step down in the event of a mistrial.

'I Remain Innocent'

"I came to the courtroom innocent under the law, which means if there is not a guilty verdict, under the law I would remain innocent," he said. "I'm going to continue doing my job until a jury unanimously decides otherwise.

"I really would like a verdict," he added.

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