Jury in Newport Beach cop discrimination suit seeks help

At 3:45 p.m. today, Superior Court Judge Peter J. Polos huddled with lawyers for the City of Newport Beach and police sergeant Neil Harvey to decide how to answer a question sent in a handwritten note from the jury.

Harvey, a 27-year veteran, claims he was repeatedly blocked for promotion because of false rumors spread among fellow cops that he's gay. Police officials dismiss the notion and claim they've regularly thwarted Harvey's advancement because he lacks leadership skills. 

The jury, which began deliberations on Friday, asked Polos:
What happens if we cannot get a ninth vote on one of the questions [on the verdict form]?

Polos read the question to Harvey lawyer John Girardi, who was present in courtroom, and James J. McDonald, who joined the discussion by phone. He noted that he'd never heard that question before during his career on the bench, suggested a simple reply and got approval from each side.

The judge told the jury that if they can't get a verdict on a specific question there will be a mistrial, and he urged them to "please" continue deliberations.

Thirty minutes later members of the panel, some of whom looked exhausted and red faced, quietly left Orange County's Central Courthouse in Santa Ana.

They are expected to continue deliberations tomorrow morning.

--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly


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