Politics » Politics Feature

DIXON TRAIL: No Verdict Yet



“We’re still in the game,” concluded defense lawyer Coleman Garrett as jurors in the Roscoe Dixon extortion trial spent an entire day deliberating without reaching a decision on the former state senator’s guilt.

That upbeat (if guarded) declaration was shortly followed by Dixon’s plaintive request, through a group of assembled media, for the public to support him through prayers and fasting. Dining on a solitary boiled egg would do just fine, Dixon suggested.

Yes, that really happened.

Listen, don’t knock it. If Dixon should defy the odds and come out of this ordeal with a hung jury or with some mild and moderate punishment on a solitary count or two (acquittal on all five counts is, take our word for it, impossible), don’t be surprised if the egg fast catches on in the wide, wide world

In any case, the racially and genderly mixed jury let it be known at about 5 o’clock in the afternoon that they had not reached agreement on the case, which had been formally presented to them just after 9 a.m. Wednesday morning. Roughly an hour later, they conveyed two questions to presiding judge Jon McCalla. The thrust of them was: (a) could the term ‘predication’ be clarified?; and (b) ditto with the concept of ‘entrapment.’

McCalla asked both head prosecutor TimDiScenza and lead defense attorney Coleman Garrett for advice on the point. Unsurprisingly, DiScenza favored a hard-and-fast definition that would firm up the former point and minimize the latter, while Coleman wanted no elaboration whatsoever beyond what had been spoken to in the trial.

The knowledge of jurors’ ambivalence on the two points , coupled with the fact that the two questions had been asked at all, might well have been regarded as an indication that somebody on that jury was taking seriously the possibility that Dixon had been entrapped and was questioning the fact of “predication” – i.e., the establishment (claimed by the FBI and basic to the government’s case) that Dixon had evinced a prior disposition to sell his legislative influence

Hence Garrett’s expression of optimism.. In the end McCalla opted (or seemed to, during an ambigious three-way conference that reporters found as difficult to interpret as the two issues at hand) for providing jurors with a supplemental instruction clarifying both points.

The only other intelligence of note concerning what the jurors were up to during the succeeding several hours of waiting was conveyed by a federal marshal, who told the handful of reporters waiting in the courtroom that the jury was divided six-six – on the issue of smoking, with half of the jurors addicted to the weed (and therefore requiring regular smoke breaks) and the other half not.

This, too, might have been a good omen for the defense.

The jurors were to reconvene at 8:30 a.m. Thursday for another try at reaching a verdict.

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