Anyone who tells you they can predict the length of jury deliberations is wrong. You just can't. It's speculation at best. Having said that, I can assure you the jury deliberating the Angela Spaccia corruption trial in Downtown LA's Criminal Courts Building will be out a long time. Days. At least.
There are 13 counts, requiring a unanimous verdict on each of them. Neither side presented a ‘‘slam dunk'' case to jurors. The prosecutors from the DA's ‘‘public integrity ‘' division said Spaccia is a liar who conspired with her former boss Robert Rizzo to steal millions from the taxpayers of the small city of Bell to make themselves rich. The defense says she was just a loyal assistant to Rizzo who simply processed paperwork that he gave her, did what he told her, didn't question it , never committed a crime, and in hindsight maybe she used poor judgement in accepting huge salaries and benefits. But hey.. that's not a crime is it ? So, jurors sat there and took all this in over about a month. They'll have, if they want to, mountains of paperwork to look through, emails, minutes of Council meetings, Council agendas, literally mountains. Or they can go with their "gut" Either way, I think even the leftover Turkey is going to be long gone by the time the case of People V. Angela Spaccia is resolved. Then again, they could wrap it up Monday.
In the case of People vs. Angela Spaccia, the jury was presented with two very different views of the same person. According to the prosecution, she is a conniving, greedy manipulative city official who deserves to go to prison for up to 16 years for essentially looting the city of Bell for millions in a secret conspiracy with her former boss, the disgraced Robert Rizzo (he's pleaded no contest).
However, her defense attorney Harland Braun has, over and over again, portrayed her as an innocent hard working pawn in an illegal game she never knew about, orchestrated by Rizzo. Braun concedes Spaccia may have exercised bad judgement, as was overpaid , but never did anything criminal. Even though those two images are clear cut and very different. It won't be an easy choice for jurors.
I wasn't there every day of testimony, but I was at most of it, and both sides seem to have presented a solid argument to support their case. Since there are 13 counts, and each one of them requires the 12 jurors to reach a unanimous decision, it makes sense that deliberations will be lengthy. They're expected to start Friday afternoon, after prosecutors get the ''final'' word in closing arguments. It goes prosecution and then defense, then prosecution. The thinking is since the State has the burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt they get the ''advantage'' if you will of the last word in the case.
It should be interesting as the prosecutors aren't shy about who they think Spaccia is (at one point of them called her testimony '' made up garbage''. In their deliberations, the jurors must follow the law... as described to them in the ''jury instructions'' read by the judge after being hammered out by both sides. Braun called those instructions ''mind numbing" On that he and the prosecution will likely agree. Write it down.. I'm predicting a mess.
(FOX 11 / AP) A prosecutor Wednesday portrayed the former assistant manager of the scandal-plagued city of Bell as a devious money manipulator who was "cleaning up" at the expense of poor residents who were bilked out of millions.
"This was public money," said Deputy District Attorney Max Huntsman. "These people in Bell are poor. They are not in Beverly Hills living on trust funds. They could have used this money."
In the first half hour of his closing argument, Huntsman quoted defendant Angela Spaccia's own words when she testified that she and her boss, Robert Rizzo, were making "insane" amounts of money.
Spaccia says there was nothing criminal about it and depicted herself as following Rizzo's orders.
Huntsman sought to show that it was a crime to elevate their own salaries until they were making more than the president of the United States for running a small suburb of 35,000 people, many of whom live below the federal poverty line.
"In 2003 (the year that Spaccia was hired), they were making crazy money but not insane money," Huntsman said. "But by 2009 they were making insane money.