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Waiting for the jury

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Day 3 - and Hour 12 - of jury deliberations in Mayor Sheila Dixon's theft trial are scheduled to begin this morning, and the waiting will resume.

"This has to be one of the most difficult periods in the mayor's life," said University of Maryland School of Law professor Douglas Colbert, who has been following proceedings closely. "For every defendant, every defense lawyer, the waiting is excruciating."

But if history is a guide, it may be too soon to call these deliberations lengthy. It took several days for juries to reach verdicts in other criminal trials involving well-known politicians in Maryland and the region. Others took just hours - which probably wouldn't have worked out well for Dixon, some said.

"Ordinarily, a quick verdict is not good for the defense," said Baltimore lawyer Andrew Levy. Dixon has said she is innocent of charges that she stole or misappropriated gift cards intended for needy families.

Here's a look at how long other politicians and their followers had to endure deliberations:

13 days Gov. Marvin Mandel: Jurors took 113 hours over 13 days to convict in the 1977 mail fraud and racketeering trial of Mandel, whose defense attorney now represents Dixon. A decade later, his conviction was overturned by a federal judge.

8 days D.C. Mayor Marion Barry: Jurors took eight days to convict Barry of misdemeanor cocaine possession and acquit him of another drug charge in 1990. A mistrial was declared on 12 other charges, including three felony perjury counts.

5 days U.S. Senate Candidate Ruthann Aron: A mistrial was declared in the 1998 murder-for-hire trial of the Potomac businesswoman, accused of plotting to kill her husband and a Baltimore lawyer, after five days of deliberations. Aron pleaded "no contest" in her second trial.

8 hours Baltimore County Executive Dale Anderson: Jurors took two days to convict him on 32 counts of extortion, conspiracy and tax evasion in 1974. (He succeeded Spiro T. Agnew, elected governor in 1966, who would plead "no contest" to tax evasion, resigning as U.S. vice president.)

5 1/2 hours State Sen. Larry Young: Jurors acquitted the West Baltimore Democrat of tax evasion and bribery on the same day they began deliberating in 1999.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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