Thursday, September 06, 2007

"Usurious" Request from Jury

Jurors in the Family Secrets mob conspiracy trial deliberated for a second day Wednesday without reaching a verdict, but not before complaining about the temperature in the jury room and becoming perplexed for a time over the definition of an uncommon word in the indictment.

Paragon Gifts, Inc.Jurors deciding the fate of four reputed Outfit figures and a former Chicago police officer issued their first written questions to U.S. District Judge James Zagel since deliberations began Tuesday. Zagel has presided over the 10-week trial.

Jurors asked for additional fans because the room where they are deliberating was stuffy.

The jury also wanted a dictionary.

After joking about whether it would be unpatriotic to give the jury an Oxford English Dictionary, Zagel asked jurors instead to tell the court which words they wanted defined.

The jury indicated the confusion was over one word—"usurious," which appears on the second page of the indictment. The defendants are accused of charging "usurious" rates on high-interest "juice loans."

The word is defined in most dictionaries as "of or constituting usury," which is defined as the practice of lending money at excessively or illegally high interest rates.Before the court had supplied an answer, jurors told the judge that they were able to glean the definition from the indictment itself.

Thanks to Jeff Coen

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