ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Monday marks day five for jury deliberations in the Jesse Ventura defamation lawsuit trial. The jury deliberated for more than 24 total hours last week, but still has not reached a verdict.
The 10-person jury has been at it for almost a week, and it’s tense because it remains unclear what will happen.
Lawyers for both sides were summoned into the court room just after noon Monday, and the jury told the judge that they could not come to a unanimous verdict. The judge sent the jury back into the deliberation room in an attempt to reach a verdict Monday afternoon.
The judge also praised them as one of the most conscientious juries he’s ever had, but noted the case might have to be re-tried if they remain deadlocked.
Joe Daly, of the Hamline University Law School, said if he were the judge he’d push the jury a little harder.
“I’d say, come on now…a lot of money [has been] spent, a lot of people are here, they are waiting,” he said. “I know it’s hard, but get back in there and see if you can come to a resolution.”
The case centers around the book “American Sniper” and its author, former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle.
Kyle said in interviews he punched former Minnesota Gov. Ventura in a bar in 2006 for making unpatriotic comments. Ventura said it never happened, and he lost business opportunities because his reputation was damaged from the unflattering story. Ventura wants up to $15 million in damages.
Kyle was murdered in 2013, so his widow, Taya Kyle, has been acting on his behalf in an emotional three-week long trial that’s now become a long wait.
Hamline Law School Professor David Schultz described to us what could be the big hold up.
“The more likely scenario is that it’s a 10-person jury that is a split jury 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. They’re just stuck,” Schultz said.
To rule in Ventura’s favor, the jury must find by clear and convincing evidence that Chris Kyle knew his story was false and published it anyway
If jurors can’t reach a verdict, professor Schultz said the judge could order the jury to keep working or declare a mistrial. Then Ventura’s legal team would have to make another trial happen.