Newly released court transcripts raise red flags, suggest some jurors ‘had it out’ for Manafort

Newly unsealed court transcripts reveal that a juror’s comments about Paul Manafort’s weak defense almost led to the judge declaring a mistrial.

According to the transcripts released Wednesday, Manafort’s defense team moved for a mistrial as it seemed some jurors had already made up their minds about President Trump’s former campaign manager.

A secret hearing was held during the middle of the trial which ended Tuesday when Manafort was convicted on eight charges of financial crimes.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III questioned jurors but denied the motion for a mistrial after one juror reported on another’s comments which she felt “crossed the line.” The juror also noted that other jurors were talking about the case despite directions not to do so.

The juror who had overhead the comments told Ellis she was worried the other juror “had essentially made up her mind regarding the case based on the information presented to her thus far,” according to the transcript.

The trial was delayed for five hours on August 10 as Ellis met privately with lawyers and left the courtroom at one point, headed toward the jury room. The judge reminded jurors several times to not discuss the case once the trial had resumed.

The transcript showed that jurors were questioned individually by Ellis in an attempt to decide if they could remain fair during the proceedings.

One of the most controversial exchanges is in the tweet below:

“We obviously would not agree that it’s a small thing” to have “jurors making comments on the weakness of the defense,” defense lawyer Kevin Downing said, supporting the questioning as a way to ensure Manafort was given a fair trial. The defense team had also tried to get one of the jurors removed as they believed she had not been honest in questioning, but Ellis did not grant the request.

“Mr. Manafort is disappointed of not getting acquittals all the way through or a complete hung jury on all counts,” Manafort attorney Kevin Downing told reporters after the trial. “However, he would like to thank Judge Ellis for granting him a fair trial, thank the jury for their very long and hard-fought deliberations.”

Manafort was convicted of five counts of filing false tax returns, one count of failing to report a foreign bank account and two counts of bank fraud but the jury deadlocked on other foreign bank account charges and bank fraud and bank fraud conspiracy charges, according to AP.

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Frieda Powers

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