MAYS LANDING - Jurors in the Atlantic City voter-fraud trial have each recieved a copy of the massive verdict sheet they will be voting on this afternoon. Originally, they had been given just one, which is to be filled out by the forewoman.
Deliberations began at about 11:15 this morning in the trial of Atlantic City Councilman Marty Small and five others. After lunch - and about 90 minutes of talks - the jurors had their first question.
"Is there any way that each juror could have their own copy of the jury sheet? It would expedite the process," Superior Court Judge Raymond Batten read from the note.
"I agree," said Michael Schrieber, who represents defendant LuQuay Zahir.
The judge then called in the jurors, some who laughed as he told them their first request had been granted. Then a sheriff's officer handed out 11 copies of the 27-page verdict sheet to the jurors who did not have one.
The morning began with Batten finishing up jury instruction, which including reading the entire verdict sheet. The jurors must vote on nine charges for each of the six defendants, along with a 10th charge Small, Tracy Pijuan and Thomas Quirk, who are accused of lying in their testimony before the grand jury. None of the other defendants testified before the grand jury.
Jurors had spent all day Monday listening to Superior Court Judge Raymond Batten read from a 151-page document instructing them of what they are to consider as they vote on the various charges against Small, Zahir, Pijuan, Quirk, Toni Dixon, Tracy Pijuan and Floyd Tally.
Fourteen people were indicted in September 2009, alleging they conspired to help Small steal the 2009 Atlantic City Democratic primary for mayor by mishandling ballots. Two men pleaded guilty, but one had his deal with the state revoked after his performance on the stand at trial. Six others are supposed to be tried later this year.
The jury marked its 61st day in court today in a trial that has spanned four months.