Much like Wednesday afternoon, I got another itch to sit in during the day's last couple hours of jury deliberations in the City Hall corruption case, but I was quickly disappointed upon seeing Don and Sheila Hill in the lobby of the Earle Cabell Federal Building and Courthouse. Turns out the jury stopped deliberating at 1:30 p.m., and worse yet, the two co-defendants and their lawyers were banned from the 15th floor.
Victor Vital, Sheila Hill's attorney, told me that U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Stickney verbally issued him an order on behalf of U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn prohibiting all "parties and lawyers" from occupying the 15th floor (where Lynn's courtroom is located) until the jury reaches a verdict. Vital claims Stickney cited "a Dallas Observer article," which we assume refers to yesterday's item about hearing "different tones and raised voices" from the jury while in the courtroom.
Lori Greco, Lynn's courtroom deputy, says while there is no official order from Lynn, the courtroom and surrounding area will be off-limits to everyone -- the general public, media, defendants and lawyers -- until the jury reaches a verdict because "you can hear when they're talking." Lynn has not closed her courtroom during deliberations in the past, Greco says.
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The jury also passed another note today -- their fifth thus far.