Dead End For Tyco Trial?

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AP
Was a weekend off enough to break the apparent deadlock in deliberations by the Tyco jury?

That's what the judge - trying to avoid a mistrial - hoped as he rejected defense requests that he declare a hung jury last week.

But that could still happen in the case of the two former Tyco top executives, accused of looting the company with big bucks perks they say were earned, not stolen.

The jury - which listened to five months of testimony before beginning its deliberations - resumes Monday deliberating a total of 32 counts against former chief executive L. Dennis Kozlowski, 57, and former chief financial officer, Mark Swartz, 43. The defendants are accused of looting $600 million from Tyco.

The elaborate trial that has come to symbolize the worst of an era of corporate excess could be derailed this week by one of the jurors: a 79-year-old retiree from Manhattan.

The former teacher and lawyer stunned the courtroom Friday by making what observers described as an "OK" gesture with her thumb and forefinger as she passed the defense table.

According to notes from other jurors, the woman wants Swartz and Kozlowski acquitted on all counts and has been refusing to deliberate any other potential verdict.

The woman worked as a teacher before receiving a law degree from New York University in her late 50s, going on to practice for several years in New York.

Jurors, in notes to the judge last week, called the deliberations "poisonous" and "irreparably compromised."

Judge Michael J. Obus must decide whether to keep pushing jurors to overcome what they have described as an atmosphere of animosity that has dominated the jury room in recent days.

CBS News Correspondent Kelly Cobiella reports even if the judge does declare a mistrial because of a hung jury, that is not expected to be the end of Kozlowski and Swartz's legal problems. Prosecutors are likely to put them on trial a second time, or, offer the two men a plea bargain, making the argument: you were lucky once but you might not be so lucky twice.

On Friday, jurors wrote that they had "ceased to be able to conduct respectful, open-minded, good-faith deliberations." Obus called the note "disturbing" and "a little worse than a hung jury" and indicated he might declare a mistrial. But by the end of the day Obus had concurred with jurors' request to return to work after the weekend.

"Unless someone drastically changes their mind, I think the jury's going to come back the way it left: in turmoil," says CBS News Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen, adding that reports about a particular juror being a problem pose a problem in themselves.

"If the media knows that one juror is a holdout," says Cohen, "then the whole deliberative process has been compromised in such a way that the judge simply can't allow."

So far, the judge has denied four defense motions for a mistrial. He admonished jurors Friday against engaging in any communication -verbal or nonverbal - with people involved in the case.

Much of the trial has been dominated by descriptions of flamboyant behavior and breakneck spending emblematic of the era of corporate scandal that produced a string of recent high-profile white-collar trials.