Waiting Game Continues for Jimmy Dimora
AKRON, Ohio – Jurors in the federal corruption trial of former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora continued deliberating Wednesday, quietly working behind closed doors on a verdict for more than 30 charges against Dimora and co-defendant Michael Gabor.
In deliberations that began last Thursday, the jury has had only one substantive question for the court, the definition of interstate and foreign commerce. The question came shortly after the seven-man, five-woman panel began its deliberations. The only other times that the jury has buzzed the court has been to ask for office supplies, including Post-it notes and a dry erase board. They have also asked for condiments.
Dimora is named in 34 counts of the 37-count indictment. Gabor is named in eight counts. The two defendants share four of the charges, including bribery, RICO conspiracy, conspiracy to commit bribery and a Hobbs Act conspiracy charge.
Through Tuesday, the jury had already spent more than 20 hours behind closed doors.
Over the first four days of deliberation, Judge Sara Lioi has allowed the jury to determine its own quitting time depending on progress and fatigue level.
Dimora and Gabor, along with their attorneys, have been ordered to stay within 15 minutes of the courthouse so that they can be in court quickly in the event there is a jury question or a verdict. Neither defendant has been at the courthouse at all since Friday.
University of Akron law professor J. Dean Carro says the length of time the jury is taking to determine a verdict is likely a result of jurors carefully considering the number of charges.
Carro says it should come as no surprise that the jury is taking its time determining a verdict and that the length of deliberations does not necessarily favor one side or the other.
The trial itself lasted eight weeks. Prosecutors presented more than 60 witnesses, including former Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo, Former D-A-S Construction Co. executive Steve Pumper and former Parma School Board member J. Kevin Kelley, all of whom are facing federal prison sentences of their own for related charges.
Defense attorneys took only one week to call witnesses of their own, telling jurors that their defense case was made in cross-examination of the prosecution witnesses.
Dimora’s defense attorney, Bill Whitaker, concluded his closing arguments by asking jurors to find his client “guilty” before realizing his mistake and correcting it.
Carro, however, believes that the error would have had little or no impact on the jury, since after eight weeks of trial, the jurors know very well who Whitaker represents.
The conclusion of the trial marks the end of a four-year corruption investigation. Dimora had previously argued that he was “no angel,” but he did not do anything illegal.
Since the start of the trial, the once powerfully influential county commissioner and head of the local Democratic Party has been uncharacteristically silent and has remained tight-lipped even as the ultimate decision of whether or not he actually did break any laws remains in the hands of the jury.