Confusion on jury vote leads to mistrial in mayoral election lawsuit
Published: July 31,2013
Tags: ballot, bench, city, city government, City of Hattiesburg, court, Dave Ware, electecd official, election, Johnny Dupree, judge, judicial, judiciary, jury, justice, law, legal, mayor, mayoral candidate, mistrial, municipal, municipality, politician, Politics, poll, public official, vote, voter, Voting, voting right, William F. Coleman
HATTIESBURG — After seven days of court proceedings surrounding a lawsuit contesting the results of the June 4 Hattiesburg mayor’s election, it all ended yesterday in a mistrial and Johnny DuPree remains the city’s top executive.
When the jury first returned a verdict, only eight jurors could find for Dave Ware, while four backed DuPree’s case. Judge William F. Coleman then ordered the jury to continue deliberating, saying the community needed a final answer to the election.
The Hattiesburg American reports after more deliberation, jurors returned a 9-3 vote in Ware’s favor but when Coleman polled the panel twice, only eight agreed in open court.
The discrepancy between the jury room and the courtroom caused a stir among attorneys and the audience. Attorneys for DuPree moved for a mistrial, while Ware’s attorneys asked for more time for the jury to deliberate.
Coleman then polled the jurors in private and the same 8-4 verdict was reached.
DuPree’s attorneys moved for a mistrial, which Coleman granted.
Ware’s attorneys asked the judge to consider a motion for him to declare a special election, which Coleman said he would hear on Friday in Forrest County Circuit Court.
Ware contested the election results after DuPree, the incumbent, was certified the winner with a 37-vote lead. Ware contends that the absentee ballots had problems ranging from allegedly improper signatures to ballots that don’t state which election the vote is for.
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