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Tobacco-Asbestos Mistrial Declared 

Jump to full article: Associated Press (AP), 2001-01-25
Author: TOM HAYS / Associated Press Writer


A federal judge declared a mistrial Thursday in a high-stakes tobacco trial after getting a note from a juror warning deliberations were so strained that another juror had made a violent threat.

The last of three hand-written notes sent out to U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein on the fifth day of deliberations read, ``Juror has made threat against other juror to kill'' if they have to be ``here much longer.''

Weinstein told lawyers he had to take the note seriously. ``I have an obligation to jurors to protect them,'' he said.

One of the jurors, Aaron Barlow, later downplayed the note, telling reporters, ``It's not what was said.'' He said the jury had been deadlocked 10-2 for the tobacco industry since last week, and tensions were mounting against the two holdouts.

``Frankly, I think the whole case was a waste of time,'' said Barlow, 49, who was part of the majority. . .

Lead defense attorney David Bernick said the mistrial was a victory for his clients. ``This was an enormous effort to establish a beachhead against the tobacco industry and it's failed completely,'' he said.

Trust attorney Ed Westbrook said his side would seek a retrial. ``Obviously, we're disappointed, but we'll take another good run at the tobacco companies,'' he said.

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