LOS ANGELES — Jurors in the corruption trial of former Bell city official Angela Spaccia complained Tuesday that one juror is frustrating their deliberations.
In a note to Judge Kathleen Kennedy, the jury foreperson said the juror seemed to have a language problem and couldn't understand the evidence.
"We are all concerned with his ability to make a timely decision," said the jury note. "He is going in circles. He seems to lack the ability to understand the evidence."
The note said that on Monday the juror "checked out and began reading his notes." He expressed the desire to work alone, the note said.
In a hearing with lawyers, Kennedy said she was concerned about two issues — the juror's language skills and any unwillingness to deliberate with others.
"The process of deliberation is not a solitary process," she said.
But when the juror was called into court Tuesday, he spoke clear, unaccented English and said he also was fluent in Spanish. He said the only time he became confused was when everyone was talking at once and he couldn't focus.
He said he had no problem communicating with other jurors except when everybody talks at once. He said he would like them to talk one at a time.
The note said the jurors, in their fifth day of talks, have decided only three of the case's 13 counts.
"The jurors are becoming frustrated with the process," said the note.
The judge ordered them to continue deliberating.
Later in the day, the jury sent another note asking for clarification of a jury instruction relating to personal loans Spaccia received from the city. They asked about a section addressing whether Spaccia made a profit from the loans. In conversation with attorneys, the judge said there had been no testimony about that issue and the loans had been paid back. But she sent jurors a note repeating the legal instruction.
The jurors then retired for the day without returning verdicts. They were to resume deliberations Wednesday.
Spaccia is charged with misappropriation of public funds and conflict of interest, among other counts. Prosecutors say she broke the law by giving herself large raises. Her attorneys say her annual compensation package worth $564,000 was staggering, but not criminal.