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Sheridan trial: Jury deadlocked, ordered home

8-4 vote the second failed attempt to reach verdict

Jurors in Nicollette Sheridan’s wrongful termination trial say they are “hopelessly deadlocked,” in a vote of 8-4, but a Los Angeles judge ordered them to return on Monday to continue deliberations.

The jury of nine women and three men have been deliberating since Wednesday afternoon. This is the second time they have indicated their inability to come to a verdict.

The foreman revealed the vote to Judge Elizabeth Allen White, but he did not indicate which way they are leaning. The split is one vote short of the nine required for a verdict in a civil trial.

It is still unclear how long White will make them deliberate and, absent a decision, declare a mistrial. After receiving a note from the jury, she told attorneys the “message is pretty clear” that there was little that could be done, such as further arguments, to change the deadlock. “I don’t think it is going to make a difference,” she said.

Some of the jurors looked visibly upset as they were sent home for the weekend.

One of Sheridan’s attorneys, Mark Baute, said it was a “little unusual” for a jury to say they are deadlocked after only about a day and a half of deliberations. But he said his team was “pleased” after learning the vote split, indicating confidence that a majority of the jury is supportive of their case.

Sheridan is suing Touchstone Television for wrongful termination, charging “Desperate Housewives” creator Marc Cherry killed off her character in retaliation for complaining about an incident in which Cherry struck her doing a script dispute. Cherry claims that he merely gave her a “tap” as part of direction for a scene.

During much of the time that the jury has deliberated, Sheridan, her attorneys and about a dozen members of the media have been staked out outside White’s courtroom in downtown Los Angeles.

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