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Judge dismisses juror in US senator's case

Judge dismisses juror in US senator's case

A judge has dismissed one of the jurors at a longtime U.S. senator's corruption trial after losing contact with the woman following her father's death.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan plans to seat an alternate juror Monday morning and order the jury to start their deliberations over from the beginning, a setback for Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens' attempt to get a verdict before his constituents vote on whether to re-elect him Nov. 4.
"I think we've been more than reasonable," Sullivan said Sunday. He said court officials had not spoken with the juror since Friday despite repeated attempts to contact her.
In the Senate since 1968 and now its longest-serving Republican, Stevens is charged with lying on Senate financial disclosure documents to conceal $250,000 in home renovations and other gifts from a friend, millionaire oil contractor Bill Allen.
Stevens has proclaimed his innocence. He is locked in a tight race with Democrat Mark Begich for his Senate seat, and had hoped for an acquittal before Election Day.
Defense lawyer Robert Cary argued for Sullivan to delay his decision until noon Monday in case there was a reason the juror had not contacted the court. But Sullivan said court officials had repeatedly tried to contact the juror to no avail.
The trial, which began Sept. 22, has been beset by problems since the case went to the eight women and four men on Wednesday. Within hours, jurors asked to go home, sending a note to the judge saying that things had become "stressful." On Thursday afternoon, in a more explicit note, jurors asked the judge to dismiss one of their own.
"She has had violent outbursts with other jurors, and that's not helping anyone," the note read. Sullivan did not send home the juror in question.
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On the Net:
http://www.usdoj.gov/criminal/us-v-stevens/