Judge declares mistrial in Walker case
Update: After two full days of deliberations, jurors in the Calvin Walker case could not reach a verdict and were hung on all 37 counts.
It's been just over six-hours since the jury received the federal case against Calvin Gary Walker, alleging that he defrauded and stole millions of dollars from the Beaumont Independent School District through a scheme of using cut-and-paste documents to inflate contract invoices, and now they are telling the judge they are deadlocked.
Throughout the morning the jury could be heard arguing loudly amongst themselves as reporters and others sat outside the Judge Ron Clark's courtroom. The arguing became so loud at one point that federal marshals moved observers around the corner from where they had been seated. At one point, one of the men on the 10-woman, two-man jury knocked on the door and asked if they needed to send out a note to take a break. The other jurors could be heard shouting even before the door opened.
Just before 3 p.m. on the first full-day of deliberations, the jury foreman sent a note from the jury room on the second floor of the Jack Brooks Federal Courthouse stating, "We are deadlocked on the verdict. We have gone over everything. No one has changed their minds. How do we proceed?"
After gathering attorneys for both sides, the judge called jury back into the courtroom and explained to them the seriousness of the 37-count indictment Walker is facing and the importance of the jury's responsibility in trying to reach a verdict. He then read them the Allen Charge, which is used in federal court to send jurors back into deliberations. It was first used in 1986 as a means to allow jurors to strongly encourage other jurors to reach a verdict.
One example of the Allen Charge states, "I'm going to ask that you continue your deliberations in an effort to reach agreement upon a verdict and dispose of this case; and I have a few additional comments I would like for you to consider as you do so. This is an important case. The trial has been expensive in time, effort, money and emotional strain to both the defense and the prosecution. If you should fail to agree upon a verdict, the case will be left open and may have to be tried again. Obviously, another trial would only serve to increase the cost to both sides, and there is no reason to believe that the case can be tried again by either side any better or more exhaustively than it has been tried before you. Any future jury must be selected in the same manner and from the same source as you were chosen, and there is no reason to believe that the case could ever be submitted to twelve men and women more conscientious, more impartial, or more competent to decide it, or that more or clearer evidence could be produced.
"If a substantial majority of your number are in favor of a conviction, those of you who disagree should reconsider whether your doubt is a reasonable one since it appears to make no effective impression upon the minds of the others. On the other hand, if a majority or even a lesser number of you are in favor of an acquittal, the rest of you should ask yourselves again, and most thoughtfully, whether you should accept the weight and sufficiency of evidence which fails to convince your fellow jurors beyond a reasonable doubt. Remember at all times that no juror is expected to give up an honest belief he or she may have as to the weight or effect of the evidence; but, after full deliberation and consideration of the evidence in the case, it is your duty to agree upon a verdict if you can do so. You must also remember that if the evidence in the case fails to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt the Defendant should have your unanimous verdict of Not Guilty. You may be as leisurely in your deliberations as the occasion may require and should take all the time which you may feel is necessary. I will ask now that you retire once again and continue your deliberations with these additional comments in mind to be applied, of course, in conjunction with all of the other instructions I have previously given to you."
The jurors then left the courtroom and went back to deliberating the case. Attorneys in the case have been instructed not to comment to the media during the trial.
EDITORS'S NOTE: The Examiner will continue to monitor the going's on in the Walker trial and post updates as they become available.