The corruption trial of three New York politicians will likely end in a mistrial unless enough jurors are willing to serve a month or so longer than they expected, a federal judge said Monday.
If the jurors can’t stick with the case, it will probably mean a whole new trial for state Sen. Malcolm Smith, former New York City Councilman Daniel Halloran and former Queens Republican leader Vincent Tabone.
They’re accused of scheming to bribe Republican party leaders so Smith, a Democrat, could run for the GOP line in the New York City mayoral race.
The case ran into trouble last week when a witness disclosed the existence of more than 90 hours of secret recordings involving a government informant, including 28 hours that required translating. The prosecution had not shared the recordings on the grounds they weren’t relevant to the case, but defense lawyers differed and Judge Kenneth Karas ordered full disclosure.
On Monday, Karas denied a motion to dismiss the case, saying the government had not purposely hidden anything. But he said defense lawyers deserve extra time to listen to the recordings and determine whether anything they hear is useful.
“This is about putting together a puzzle,” he said.
So on Tuesday, he said, he will ask the 12 jurors and three alternates if they can stay on the panel until mid-July. Jurors had been told during jury selection that the case would end this week, and Karas said, “We have to ask if they have conflicts.”
He said he couldn’t blame any jurors who complained.
The judge indicated that more than 12 of the 15 would have to stick with the case.
If not, “then I think we have a mistrial,” he said.
Smith’s lawyer, Gerald Shargel, said he would need at least two weeks to study the recordings, saying some of the translations provided by the government over the weekend were “gibberish.” He said he wanted to get his own certified translators.
Prosecutor Justin Anderson suggested one week’s delay should be enough. He said most of the conversations were irrelevant, citing a five-minute recording that was entirely about “how to spell Ritz-Carlton.”