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Split Quattrone Jury Is Ordered Back to Court

The judge is expected to coax jurors to reach a verdict. The possibility of a mistrial is raised.

October 18, 2003|Walter Hamilton | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — The jurors deciding the fate of former Silicon Valley investment banker Frank Quattrone told the judge late Friday that they were in sharp disagreement over the case and were ordered to return to court Monday to continue their deliberations.

The jury said in a note to U.S. District Judge Richard Owen that "two jurors, one on each side, feel they cannot be persuaded to change their views."

Owen is expected to issue a so-called Allen charge Monday in which he will urge the 11-member jury -- one juror has been dismissed for personal reasons -- to work harder to reach a verdict.

If the jury cannot reach a unanimous verdict, Owen probably would declare a mistrial. Prosecutors then would have to decide whether to retry Quattrone or drop the charges against him.

Quattrone appeared elated as he and family members exchanged hearty smiles and hugs.

"The defense should be thrilled because any form of non-victory for the prosecution is a win for the defense," Washington lawyer Jacob Frenkel said.

Quattrone is charged with two counts of obstruction of justice and one of witness tampering. The government alleges that a December 2000 e-mail he wrote to his staff was an attempt to destroy documents sought in government investigations. Investigators were looking into how Quattrone's former firm, Credit Suisse First Boston, doled out shares of coveted first-time stock offerings.

The case is likely to have repercussions for the government's broad criminal crackdown on white-collar wrongdoing. In particular, experts say, the Quattrone outcome will weigh heavily on whether lifestyles entrepreneur Martha Stewart, who has been brought up on obstruction and other charges, decides to reach a plea bargain with prosecutors or go to trial as scheduled in January.

In an Allen charge, a judge tries to coax a jury to reach a verdict, particularly by pressuring one or two holdout jurors whose views may have hardened, lawyers said.

Such a move, often referred to as a "dynamite charge," can succeed with a small number of holdouts, but generally fails if the split is even between the two sides, they said.

The Allen charge is considered to be a pro-prosecution move, in part because judges often signal to jurors that the defendant will be retried and that it is pointless for a lone juror to hold out for acquittal, said George B. Newhouse Jr., a partner at Thelen Reid & Priest.

Judges also often say that a jury in a new case would struggle with the same issues, a suggestion that a failure to reach unanimity would simply cost extra time and money, he said.

"It's a guilt trip that the court lays on the jury," he said.

Quattrone's lawyer, John Keker, told Owen in a private meeting between lawyers for the two sides that he was against an Allen charge.

"We oppose the giving of an Allen charge to a jury that's only been deliberating two days," Keker said, according to a transcript of the meeting.

After a day-and-a-half spent picking the jury, opening arguments were Sept. 30. Deliberations began Wednesday.

In the note, the jurors disclosed to Owen how they were voting, but he refused to divulge the vote breakdown to the lawyers.

"The jury has not kept its part of the bargain," the judge said. After being told not to reveal details of their deliberations "they have told me where they are voting on this, that and the other."

That prompted Keker to raise the possibility of a mistrial.

"It may be appropriate for us to move for a mistrial now because the jury has obviously failed to follow the court's instruction in an important manner," Keker said.

Quattrone would face a maximum of 25 years in prison if he is convicted on all counts, although he probably would be sentenced to considerably less under federal sentencing guidelines.

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