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The judge sent them back again. A few minutes later, they returned with the same verdicts. Polled again, Juror No. 1 agreed, but Juror No. 5 said, "No, it's not my verdict." Again the judge sent them back; again they returned and confirmed their verdicts, but as one defense lawyer said, "We noticed Juror No. 11 kick the back of Juror No. 5's chair when it was her turn." Lawyers asked that Jurors 1 and 5 be polled separately, and they again repudiated their verdicts. Sent back a fourth time, the jurors deliberated half an hour more, then returned with the same verdicts and stood by them. But after the trial was declared over, Jurors 1 and 5 accosted two defendants and apologized for the verdicts. According to affidavits filed by these defendants, the repentant jurors said that two other jurors who wanted to go on vacation the next day had insisted on verdicts that night, that two jurors swung at each other, that four who wanted acquittals were "browbeaten into submission," and that one juror had slept through most of the argument. Last week the whole case was back in court as defense lawyers sought a new trial.
Occasionally, the jurors simply cease to function at all. In Washington this spring, ten jurors wanted to convict three teen-agers of raping a 14-year-old girl, but the other two reportedly spent their time swilling whisky from paper cups until a mistrial was declared. "They weren't passed out," said Foreman Robert Smoot, "but they were drinking and loud-talking and not agreeing with anything."
Jurors today may confront problems of a complexity quite unknown to medieval English juries, or even to Thomas Jefferson. Consider, for example, the lawsuit that the National Union Electric Corp. filed in 1970, charging unfair competition by its Japanese rivals. For more than ten years, 24 Japanese corporations and subsidiaries, represented by 20 different law firms, have been embroiled in the preliminaries100,000 pages of pretrial depositions, 20 million documents.
NUE was joined by Zenith in demanding a jury trial of their complaints, but some of the Japanese protested that the case was too complicated. (The Japanese also took a poll and found that many potential jurors still harbored prejudices based on memories of Pearl Harbor.) "We argued that there was no way a jury could fairly and correctly decide this case," says Joel Harris of the New York law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges, who pleaded the issue for Matsushita. "It would deny the parties' right to due process to have the trial before a jury that could not understand the case."
Federal Judge Edward R. Becker strongly disagreed. There was no such thing, he ruled, as a case "too complicated" for a jury. The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, in turn, overruled him by a 2-to-l vote. It said that certain extraordinary cases could indeed be too complicated and instructed Becker to determine whether this was