MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Last week, the jury for the Jesse Ventura defamation trial deliberated for nearly 25 hours without coming to a verdict. The lengthy deliberations even have experts wondering what could be taking so long.
The former governor says he was defamed in the book “American Sniper”, when author Chris Kyle claimed he punched out Ventura in a California bar for making offensive comments about Navy SEALs.
Ventura says it never happened and the story has cost him his career.
The jury in the Ventura trial must decide whether the late Kyle acted with malice and reckless disregard when he published his account. If the jury finds there was defamation, they must also decide damages.
Ventura says the book destroyed his reputation and as a result he lost jobs. Ventura says his income plunged from $11 million between 2002 and 2012 to $100,000 dollars a year annually. He is seeking up to $15 million from Kyle’s estate.
Hamline law professor David Schultz had been named as possible expert witness in the case. Schultz was ready to testify that in his opinion Kyle’s book did not damage Ventura’s reputation.
In the end, Schultz never took the stand. He was a guest, however, on WCCO Sunday Morning.
“I think the more likely scenario is that it’s a 10 person jury, that it is a split jury at this point. That you have several jurors who have made up their mind and want to rule in favor of Kyle, several in favor of Ventura and they are not going to be able to bridge that gap. It’s just literally — I am going to make up a number — it’s 6-3, 7-4, who knows whatever it is. It could even be 9-1,” Schultz said.
Adding to the mystery of were the jury is in their deliberations is the fact the judge has not revealed the three questions jurors have asked him so far. Often, jury questions are made public immediately. The judge says he will make those questions public after the verdict is in.
Schultz said if jurors cannot reach a verdict, the judge could either make them continue to work or declare a mistrial. It would then by up to Ventura to pursue another trial.
Testimony will continue Monday.
You can watch WCCO Sunday Morning with Esme Murphy and Matt Brickman every Sunday at 6 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.