Judge Gives Stevens’ Jury Lengthy Instructions

Posted October 22, 2008 at 11:38am

For just over an hour Wednesday morning, Judge Emmet Sullivan read detailed legal instructions to the jury in the criminal trial of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), and then handed them the case to begin deliberations slightly before noon.

Just before the jury departed, the judge dismissed four previously selected alternates, leaving the Senator’s fate in the hands of a jury that includes seven African-American women, three African-American men and one white woman.

Sullivan read 73 separate instructions to the jury, ranging from detailed explanation of what it means to make a “willful” act, to a reminder that statements of attorneys are not evidence in the case.

The proceedings were delayed this morning for more than an hour as the judge and counsel for both sides scoured the jury instructions one last time for typos, after the judge found several in his copy.

Many of the jurors appeared to struggle to maintain focus during the instructions, with at least one appearing to nod off. When the judge completed his reading, he smiled and said to the jurors, “That’s all!” At that, the jurors laughed, and several pretended to fall out of their chairs.