Jerry Eversole’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, says the feds were trying to criminalize a friendship.
The “friendship” argument apparently was a part of deliberations. At one point the jury sent Hittner a note asking, “Friendship or not, where do you draw the line to justify continuing to accept things of value (as an elected official) with someone who does business with the county?”
County Commissioner Jerry Eversole, has escaped yet again from allegations of having a rather loose interpretation of ethics rules. A federal jury could not come to a decision on whether Eversole took $100,000 in bribes from a contractor, and U.S. District Judge David Hittner declared a mistrial.
On Tuesday after the jury said it was deadlock in two notes to Judge David Hittner, a third note was then sent to the judge from the jurors, which said the areas they needed to address include:
1. Re-stating the argument that this was a conspiracy.
2. What was the relationship between Surface and Eversole from their first meeting until 1999, and did the pattern of behavior change?
3. Friendship or not, where do you draw the link to justify continuing to accept things of value (as an elected official) with someone who does business with the county?
When our legal analyst read that last question, he knew there was no hope.
“This is a hung jury. You have jurors there who bought the friendship defense, that clearly say there is a line between friendship and criminal responsibility and we don’t know where that line is,” KTRK Legal Analyst Joel Androphy said.
The judge made the announcement today, March 30, 2011, just before noon, saying he’d like for a new jury to be chosen as early as this coming week with a new trial underway in April. Attorneys, however, said they would like more time.
As for the jury and where they stood on the four counts:
- Conspiracy: 5 guilty, 7 not guilty
- Bribery: 10 guilty, 2 not guilty
- 2003 tax misstatement: 10 guilty, 2 not guilty
- 2004 tax misstatement: 7 guilty, 5 not guilty
“We all agreed he took the money — that was evident. We all agreed he used his office or his influence — the question for two of us was did he do that corruptly,” Hopkins said.
But now, both sides know a lot more about how their case played to a jury. And to the majority of jurors who voted to convict, Eversole’s acceptance of big dollar gifts, even with a friend, didn’t play well.
“I think it was ludicrous. I think the guy knows exactly what he was doing. He skirted the law,” jury foreman John Hopkins said.
“At the end of the day, 10 of us thought he was guilty on at least 2 charges. We couldn’t sway the other 2,” said “jury foreman John Hopkins.
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March 30, 2011
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