Reporter's notebook

We Have No Idea How Long Deliberations Will Take In The Manafort Trial

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August 21, 2018 10:46 am

As the jury enters day four of deliberations in Paul Manafort’s Virginia trial, the realization that we have no idea how long the jury will take to reach a verdict is sinking in.

We’ve been prepared each day for the verdict to drop at any moment, with a TPM reporter in the Alexandria courthouse at all times, armed with a checklist of the 18 counts Manafort faces in the case. The jury could reach a conclusion any moment now, or their deliberations could stretch on for days, weeks, or even months. This is a complicated case with dozens of financial documents and intertwining testimony from nearly 30 witnesses.

The jurors last week sent the judge questions that suggest they are moving through the counts and documents methodically. They asked about the rules governing FARA filings, suggesting that they were putting significant thought into whether Manafort was required to report foreign bank accounts to the Treasury Department. They also asked if they could obtain a list matching the evidence documents to the counts Manafort faces, suggesting that they were looking to scrutinize the exhibits as they deliberate.

Four days of debate is within a normal time range for deliberation, especially if you consider the number of documents special counsel Robert Mueller’s team used to make their case.

The jury raised our hopes that an end could be in sight slightly yesterday when it notified the judge that it would deliberate about an hour past the time jury members typically head home. But there’s no real conclusion we can draw from their extended deliberation on Monday.

As we toiled away on crossword puzzles in the courtroom yesterday, separated from our phones and computers, we were reminded of cases that have stretched on for what seems like an eternity. The jury in the Blackwater trial deliberated for about a month. And on the extreme end, the longest trial in U.S. history took two and a half years.

Here’s hoping that this trial doesn’t gives those a run for their money.

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