Judge Denies Mistrial Request in Kozlowski Trial

With the atmosphere in the jury room described as “poisonous” and one juror under media fire for an alleged gesture made in court last week, calls for a mistrial in the trial of Dennis Kozlowski and Mark Swartz were denied yesterday by New York Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus.

Kozlowski and Swarz face up to 30 years in prison if convicted on charges they looted Tyco International Ltd. of $600 million. Stephen Kaufman, lawyer for Kozlowski, former chief executive officer, said his client could no longer get a fair trial due to the press coverage given to one of the jurors, Bloomberg reported.

Kaufman said the trial had “degenerated into a mockery of what should be a fair and constitutionally appropriate.” The juror in question is supposed to have made an “OK” gesture toward the defense table last week, the Wall Street Journal reported. The New York post published a drawing of the alleged incident.

“It seems to me that it would be inappropriate to declare a mistrial when all 12 jurors, who have devoted six months of their lives to this trial, are prepared to continue,'' Obus said. Last week he denied several mistrial motions stemming from jury notes referring to “intense” conflict in the jury room.

Juror No. 4 told the judge the media claims were overblown and that nothing had happened that would keep her from deliberating “in good conscience,” Bloomberg reported, adding the juror is a former teacher and law-school graduate.

In denying the request, Obus said: “We cannot let what is published in the newspapers dictate what happens here, if that is unnecessary.''

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