Conrad Black Jury Says it Can’t Reach Verdict

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The jury in the racketeering and fraud trial of fallen media tycoon Conrad Black sent a note to the judge Tuesday saying they are unable to reach a verdict and asking for advice.

The note, read to the court by U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve said: “We have discussed and deliberated on all the evidence and are still unable to reach a unanimous verdict on one or more counts. Please advise.”

The note, sent during their ninth day of deliberations, was signed by the jury foreman and ended with: “P.S. We have read the jury instructions very carefully.”

Black, 62, is accused of swindling shareholders in the Hollinger International Inc. newspaper empire out of more than $60 million. He faces more 13 criminal counts, including mail fraud, wire fraud and racketeering.

The trial, which included three other defendants, began March 20.

After St. Eve read the note, Ronald Safer ? an attorney for defendant Mark Kipnis and speaking for the defense ? said the judge should accept that the jury was unable to reach a verdict.

Safer said the jury had been “extremely careful” and had deliberated for nine days already.

Lead prosecutor Eric Sussman, however, said the government put the actual time of deliberations at only about seven full days and urged that the jurors continue trying to reach a verdict. He also raised the possibility of giving the jurors the option of returning a partial verdict, meaning the decisions they have already agreed upon.

The judge told the attorneys the jury has paid “incredible attention” throughout the trial. “I do think there is some benefit to bringing the jury back into the courtroom and reinstructing them,” she said before calling the jurors to appear before her.

Once the jurors were in their seats, she re-read them instructions in which they are told they must make every reasonable effort to reach a unanimous decision. After the brief appearance, the jurors returned to their deliberations.

Hollinger International once owned community papers across the United States and Canada as well as the Chicago Sun-Times, the Toronto-based National Post, The Daily Telegraph of London and Israel’s Jerusalem Post. The Sun-Times is the only large paper remaining and the name of the company has been changed to Sun-Times News Group.

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