Judge tells jury in Jesse Ventura defamation case to keep talking

  • Article by: RANDY FURST , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 28, 2014 - 10:35 PM

“Give it one more shot,” deadlocked group told.

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Jesse Ventura arrived at court with his wife, Terry, and others.

Photo: Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune

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A frustrated jury will try again Tuesday to reach a verdict in the defamation suit brought by former Gov. Jesse Ventura after deliberating for five days and telling the judge that they are deadlocked.

At midday Monday, the 10-member jury informed U.S. District Judge Richard Kyle that they could not reach a verdict, but the judge instructed them to keep trying. “We have not reached a unanimous decision,” the jury wrote in a note to Kyle. “We feel we will not come to a unanimous decision.”

Kyle read the note aloud at a noon hearing with the jury and attorneys in the courtroom, then told the 10 jurors to “give it one more shot.” He repeated that his instructions required a unanimous verdict.

Jurors looked grim-faced as they returned to the jury room.

Although the reasons for the jury’s deadlock are unclear, the attorneys for both sides were called to Kyle’s chambers at 4:15 p.m. and asked by the judge to answer some questions and return 15 minutes later.

The attorneys did so. They emerged to tell reporters the jury would resume deliberations at 9 a.m., but gave no insight into the substance of the discussions with Kyle.

One of Ventura’s attorneys, David B. Olsen, was asked whether he would seek a new trial if a mistrial is declare. “No comment,” he answered.

Deliberating since Tuesday

Jurors have been deliberating since last Tuesday, for a total of about 31 hours, in the suit filed by the former governor claiming that the late Navy SEAL Chris Kyle fabricated an account of a 2006 bar fight in his bestselling book, “American Sniper.”

Kyle wrote that he punched out a “celebrity” ex-Navy SEAL who criticized the SEALs’ role in the war in Iraq. He identified the man in interviews as Ventura, whose lawsuit claims the account ruined his reputation.

Chris Kyle was killed in 2013, and Ventura continued the suit against his estate, managed by his widow, Taya Kyle.

The trial began July 8 at the federal courthouse in St. Paul with the selection of the six-man, four-woman jury. Jurors took last week weekend off and shortly after they resumed deliberations at 9 a.m. Monday they requested that an easel and pens be brought to the jury room.

Around 12:15 p.m., the judge began the hearing with the jurors and attorneys present.

Judge talks to jury

At the hearing, Judge Kyle told jurors that they should “not lower your standards,” but he urged them to continue deliberating.

He pointed out that if there was a hung jury, the case could be tried again. “There’s no reason to think the case would be better tried” a second time.

“I’m going to give you one more time,” Kyle told them.

He said if they can’t reach a decision, “let me know and we’ll deal with it at that time.”

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