Jurors continue deliberations in Ventura trial
By Randy Furst | Star Tribune (Minneapolis) | Published: July 23, 2014
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Box lunches were delivered to jurors deliberating the Jesse Ventura defamation case in U.S. District Court in St. Paul Wednesday. There is no indication yet whether they are close to a verdict.
Earlier, jurors sent a question to Judge Richard Kyle, just hours into their deliberations.
Kyle met with attorneys for both sides in his chambers at 8:15 a.m. Wednesday. Frequently when a jury has a question, judges consult with attorneys for both sides before determining how to answer. Sometimes they don’t answer the question.
Because the conversation was in chambers, the subject is not public. Questions are often put in the public record when the trial is over.
Jurors met for several hours Tuesday after receiving the case at midday. They left at 4:30 and returned to federal court in St. Paul at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
None of the attorneys Wednesday was prepared to speculate on how long it will take the six men and four women on the jury to reach a verdict.
Jurors’ first job is to determine if the former Minnesota governor was defamed by the late Chris Kyle, whose bestselling memoir “American Sniper” contains a description of a bar fight involving Ventura. Ventura’s lawsuit claims the incident never happened.
Judge Kyle told jurors that they first must conclude if Ventura was defamed. If not, the trial is over.
If they decide that defamation occurred and that Ventura’s reputation was harmed, they must determine how large an award the former governor should receive, said the judge, who is no relation to Chris Kyle.
Chris Kyle, an ex-Navy SEAL, died in 2013, and Ventura continued the suit against his estate and widow, Taya Kyle.
In his closing argument, Ventura attorney David B. Olsen told jurors it is up to them to come up with a dollar amount, but he mentioned these amounts in descending order: $15 million, $10 million or $5 million. It was the first time that Ventura’s team laid out how much it is seeking.
To reach a verdict, the six men and four women must reach a unanimous decision.
In his instructions Tuesday, Judge Kyle said that if jurors had questions, they should write him a note, “and make sure it’s good penmanship.”
After Tuesday’s proceedings, Ventura walked up to Judge Kyle and spoke briefly. He later explained to a reporter he had passed along a greeting from Dave Tentis, a PGA golfer who used to be the judge’s caddie. He said Tentis told him, “Please give the judge my best.”