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Learning English - Words in the News
19 September, 2007 - Published 12:21 GMT
Spector jury deadlock on verdict
Record producer Phil Spector
Record producer Phil Spector

The jury in the Phil Spector murder case has told the judge that it cannot agree on a verdict. The record producer is accused of murdering a Los Angeles actress, Lana Clarkson, four years ago. This report from Peter Bowes:

Listen to the story

After almost seven days of deliberations, the jury sent the judge a note saying they were at an impasse. The foreman said they were split seven-five, but he did not indicate whether that was for or against a guilty verdict. For now, the judge has ruled out the possibility of a mistrial and sent the jury home.

They've been ordered to return to court in the morning when the judge will re-read some of the legal instructions they were given as guidelines for their deliberations. Some of the jurors said that may help them reach a verdict.

In the meantime, the judge has told the lawyers he's thinking of offering the jury the option of considering the lesser offence of manslaughter. That would require the jury to return to the courtroom to hear more arguments from the lawyers.

Peter Bowes, BBC, Los Angeles

Listen to the words

the jury
the group of people (ordinary citizens) who decide if someone is guilty or not, in a court of law

the judge
the person who is in charge of a trial in a court and decides how a person who is guilty of a crime should be punished

at an impasse
when two people or a group of people can't agree with each other about what to do next

in a court of law, the one member of the jury who is in charge of their discussions and who officially speaks to the judge for them

split seven-five
here, seven people on the jury thought one thing and five thought something different

for or against a guilty verdict
here, believe or disbelieve that a person committed murder

ruled out the possibility
decided that something will not happen

a mistrial
in American law, a trial where the jury cannot agree if someone is guilty or not

thoughts, considerations or discussions about something

the crime of killing a person by someone who did not mean to do it or who cannot be held responsible for his or her actions

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