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What is a jury that cannot agree and can a mistrial occur? – NBC Boston

What is a jury that cannot agree and can a mistrial occur? – NBC Boston
What is a jury that cannot agree and can a mistrial occur? – NBC Boston

As deliberations in the Karen Read case drag on into their fourth day, more and more people are wondering whether the case could end in a mistrial, and if so, how long it might take before the judge steps in and declares a mistrial.

Prosecutors say Read struck John O’Keefe, her boyfriend, a Boston police officer, with her SUV and then fled the scene in January 2022. He was left unconscious in the snow after a night of bar-hopping. Read’s lawyers argue that the crime was framed on her.

NBC10 Boston’s legal experts shared their thoughts on the ongoing deliberations on Thursday’s episode of “Canton Confidential.”

An audience member asked if Judge Beverly Cannone could use an Allen count, also known as a “dynamite count,” if the jury continues to be unable to reach a consensus, and issue further instructions to encourage the minority members to reconsider their position.

“Absolutely,” said Morjieta Derisier, a criminal defense attorney with Baystate Law Group. “Judges want to encourage jurors to reach a verdict because they’ve worked so hard and spent many, many weeks in chambers — especially in this particular case. So I’ve seen and heard that the judge is encouraging them to go back and see if they can come back with a unanimous vote again. I’m not sure that’s going to happen this time. Only time will tell.”

However, if the jury ultimately fails to reach a verdict and a stalemate remains, how long could it take for Cannone to declare a mistrial?

“There’s no hard and fast rule as to how long it takes for the judge to declare a mistrial,” said Katherine Loftus, a Boston-based attorney with Loftus & Loftus PC. “Basically, they come back and say, ‘We’re at an impasse,’ and go back and deliberate further. If they still can’t reach an agreement, the judge questions everyone and basically declares a mistrial. It will be interesting to see.”

One factor, she said, is the upcoming Fourth of July weekend, which could interrupt deliberations.

“You would probably just go through Wednesday, have Thursday through Friday off and come back the next week. In that case, you have to lead the judge to a dead end, instruct the jury to go back, you’re the best people in the world so make the decision and if they can’t do that, you’ll probably have two weeks before she declares a mistrial.”

She said that time frame is similar to the Emanuel Lopes murder trial, which reached a verdict in about two weeks. Lopes was charged in 2018 with the killings of Weymouth police sergeant Michael Chesna and 77-year-old Vera Adams. Cannone presided over that trial and declared a mistrial before Lopes was ultimately found guilty after his second trial earlier this year.

Regardless, Derisier said it looks like the jury will deliberate at least into next week.

“They’re really taking their time,” she said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we were here on Tuesday.”

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