Unyielding Tyco juror would have voted to acquit

Holdout denies giving `OK' sign to defendants

April 07, 2004|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

NEW YORK - No, she said, she did not flash an "OK" to the defense lawyers. But yes, she would have voted to acquit the two former Tyco International executives on all counts.

Ruth B. Jordan, Juror No. 4 in the Tyco trial, has finally spoken publicly.

The 79-year-old retired history teacher and law school graduate says that if New York Supreme Court Justice Michael J. Obus had not declared a mistrial Friday because of a stranger's letter to her, the six-month Tyco trial would probably have ended in a hung jury. She very likely would have held out for acquittal on all 32 counts.

"At best it was going to be a hung jury; I don't think I would have voted guilty on any count," Jordan said yesterday in an interview with The New York Times and the CBS News program 60 Minutes II, which will broadcast the interview tonight.

She said she did not think the prosecution had proved criminal intent on the part of L. Dennis Kozlowski, Tyco's former chief executive, and Mark H. Swartz, its one-time chief financial officer, who were accused of looting the company of $600 million through theft and stock manipulation.

"Intent was the center of the whole case, at least for me," she said. "I don't think they thought they were committing a crime."

Through the last week of deliberations, she said, she wrestled with the idea of convicting the defendants on some counts to reach a consensus with her fellow jurors, something she said she was feeling growing pressure to do.

During straw polls, "on a couple of occasions I rose my hand," to vote guilty on certain counts. "But I didn't feel it," she said. "I was abandoning my own standards and beliefs. I was trying to be somebody else."

Some other jurors have said that the 12-member panel was on the verge of convicting Kozlowski and Swartz on a least several counts before the judge stopped their deliberations Friday morning to declare a mistrial.

Jordan, poised and precise in her account, said her willingness to continue discussions with the other jurors had done nothing to change her mind on the central issue of criminal intent. The jurors had singled out Jordan in their note to the judge the previous week for having "stopped deliberating in good faith." She was then identified by name by The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post.

Obus declared a mistrial Friday after Jordan told him she had received a letter from a stranger criticizing her supposed unwillingness to consider the possibility of the defendants' guilt.

She said the typewritten letter, which she called "disturbing" but not "threatening," said, "`Dennis and Mark are huge criminals,' and how could I have failed to see that?"

The Journal and Post defended their actions by saying Jordan had thrust herself into the public spotlight when she made what appeared to spectators to be an "OK" gesture to the defense team in open court on the morning of March 26.

Jordan said yesterday that she never made such a gesture. "I did not send anybody any OK sign," she said. "I would never do that. It's contrary to what I'm supposed to do as a juror. It's unbelievably stupid."

She said her hand motion may have been misinterpreted. "I touch my head a lot; it's a habit," she said, fiddling her hair with bent fingers in a characteristic gesture that might be open to misinterpretation.

Jordan said she had decided to grant an interview to clear up much of the speculation about her role in the trial. Near tears, she said would not change her mind about the case if she could serve on the jury again:

"If I had voted against my conscience, and said, `All right, they're guilty,' when I don't believe it, then why can't anybody else do the same thing? And that's an absolute destruction of what the jury system is about."

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