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Power on Trial: Jury restarts deliberations with a new member

Linda and Edward Mangano walk up the steps

Linda and Edward Mangano walk up the steps to federal court in Central Islip on Friday. Photo Credit: James Carbone

Jury, the remix

After the long holiday weekend, things were set to begin again on Tuesday, once all jurors checked in to the deliberation room.

They were supposed to be there at 9 a.m.

But by 9:17 a.m. or so, a few were still drifting in.

By then, defendants and lawyers and reporters were in the building, prepared for another day of awaiting the jury’s decision.

But not everybody was in the ninth-floor courtroom for the trial of former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and his wife, Linda.

And then one lawyer took a look at his cellphone and left the hallway to go into the courtroom — followed by at least one reporter.

Was there a note?

No one knew, for the moment.

All that was certain was that the judge, according to a court official, “wanted to go on the record.”

At 9:21 a.m., Judge Joan Azrack walked in.

At 9:24 a.m., she told the court reporter, “Tell me when you’re ready.”

And at 9:25 a.m., Azrack told the courtroom that a juror was ill. And that the court had “received a fax and a note from a doctor so she will not be here.”

It was juror No. 5, a woman who sat in the front row — fifth when counted from the judge’s side of the room — when the panel was seated in the courtroom.

Over the next half-hour or so, defense lawyers conferred and so did prosecutors, after which Kevin Keating, Edward Mangano’s attorney, asked for a mistrial — a motion supported by John Carman, Linda Mangano’s attorney.

Azrack, after a break, ruled against the mistrial.

Later, she — after the defense and prosecution agreed to replace Juror No. 5 with the First Alternate Juror — informed the jury that one of their number had been excused and that another had been named to join them.

Until that moment, all three alternate jurors stayed to themselves in a separate room — with a window — while the jury panel deliberated in another — without one.

Still, whenever the jury panel was called into open court, the alternatives were called to the jury box as well.

On Tuesday, there’s no way of knowing what was going on in the alternate juror’s mind when she took her seat.

But her face seemed to register surprise when the judge called her number, in an instant switching her status from alternate to deliberating juror.

And when the panel left to resume their work, the newest member went along with them — under the judge’s directive to start deliberations in the case against the Manganos all over again.

Her first day of deliberations ended early, at 3 p.m., when jurors were dismissed for the day.

Duly noted

In arguing for a mistrial, Keating referenced two notes: One sent by the juror who was dismissed on Tuesday because of illness, and the other was a note sent by an alternate juror weeks ago -- before both sides rested their case.

That alternate juror ended up being dismissed, too.

In the jury note sent Tuesday, the juror, among other things, said that jurors had cursed and called each other names during deliberations, Keating said.

In addition, the juror cited concerns about her health, and said the jury had stopped deliberating at some point on Friday.

In the earlier note, according to attorneys, the alternate juror referenced that length of the trial — which has gone on weeks longer than anticipated.

That juror also said that the jury— despite instructions from the judge — already were discussing the case, and that some already had taken sides.

Both notes are under seal by the judge, according to court officials.

In his argument for a mistrial, Keating said Tuesday’s note from Juror No. 5 “raises concerns about the deliberation process.”

Carman said simply, “I’ll join the motion.”

After taking some time, Azrack ruled against the mistrial motion, noting that it was not unusual for jury deliberations sometimes to grow passionate.

As for Keating’s citing of the jury note about jurors stopping deliberations on Friday, Azrack noted that, given the length of the trial and of deliberations, one result might have been a jury decision to take “a therapeutic break” on the Friday before the Memorial Day weekend.

Starting over

In instructing the jury to begin its deliberations “anew,” Azrack meant that it should restart deliberations on counts that remained after jurors last week decided to render a partial verdict, acquitting John Venditto, Oyster Bay’s former town supervisor, on all counts.

Last week, when Azrack gave jurors the option of continuing deliberations or rendering a partial verdict and then returning to more deliberations, she made it crystal clear that there was no turning back on the partial verdict once it was pronounced.

That meant that on Tuesday — when 11 members of the jury that decided to acquit Venditto were joined by an alternate who had no say in the decision — the job was to decide on the counts that remained.

Those involve the two remaining defendants, Edward and Linda Mangano.

Upstairs, downstairs

As the jury went back to work, several people from that courtroom went up to the 10th floor to watch a sentencing proceeding for Gerard Terry, a former Democratic power broker in North Hempstead.

Two of the three prosecutors in the Mangano/Venditto trial were on hand to watch fellow prosecutor, Asst. U. S. Attorney Artie McConnell, go up against Terry’s lawyer, Stephen Scaring, in arguments before U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert.

At one point, Scaring, in arguing that Terry should receive no prison time, cited letters sent to the court on Terry’s behalf by supporters, including U.S. Rep. Thomas Suozzi, a Democrat from Glen Cove, Hazel Dukes, head of the state NAACP, and several others.

He said Terry’s work for charity and his mentoring of several political leaders merited a sentence of community service.

McConnell said the lengths to which Terry went to avoid paying taxes, and what McConnell called Terry’s lack of taking responsibility for his actions, merited a long prison term.

Seybert ended up sentencing Terry, who earlier had pleaded guilty to failing to pay almost $1 million in federal income taxes, to 3 years in prison.

Scaring’s son-in-law, John Carman, Linda Mangano’s attorney, remained with his client on the ninth floor.

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