Helio jury befuddled

Posted by Iannucci | 4/14/2009 | 7 comments »
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We here in the U.S. of A. know what tomorrow is. It's April 15th, or as we like to call it Take It In the Shorts from the I.R.S. Tax Day, and it holds a bit of irony for Helio Castroneves.

It seems that since Friday jurors are still grappling with the legal whatchamacallits in the tax code, and in the past few days have asked the presiding judge no less than three times to give them a little help with their task. Apparently after sitting through all of the trial they're just now getting around this "constructive receipt" idea and would like the the Honorable Judge Donald Graham to 'splain this dealio to them.

Jurors asked three questions in their latest note about these tax principles, delaying deliberations for more than two hours while lawyers and U.S. District Judge Donald Graham haggled over a response. In the end, Graham gave jurors a partial answer - but said they must decide much of it themselves.

"The questions you have presented are difficult for us to respond to," Graham told the panel of seven women and five men. Jurors failed to reach a verdict Tuesday and planned to resume discussions Wednesday.

(MORE from Forbes/AP)
I'm no legal expert, but it would seem that if the juroros are having some questions on the subject they might be reluctant to find a defendant guilty of something they don't understand. Then again, there are 18 total counts here among Helio, his sister and his representative, so one count avoided does not make any of them "EEE-nnocent."

Will at is it May yet? says that Helio's attorney has taken the opportunity of these inquiries to file for a mistrial.

Roy Black has more tricks than Houdini. Well, today the court provided some supplimental instruction to the jury regarding deferral of income. These instructions were, according to Helio’s defense team, a substantial modification to the instructions originally given to the jury, with some additional language added to them. The problem is that this violates Rule 30 of the federal code. Now, I’m no tax law expert, but I do know you cannot change the rules midway through the case, and that’s basically what they’re claiming. They say that they made their closing arguments based on one interpretation given to the jury, but a second interpretation was given once in deliberations.
None of us are tax experts, Will, but sometimes we play them on blogs, right? Present company included.

One final note: I received an email from someone who is a bit of a legal expert giving her take on the situation. Just for amusing purposes only, here is her view on the recent developments.

Based upon the question asked on Friday, I would say that the jury is not yet convinced that Feds met their burden. Given the complexity and ambiguity of the tax laws I am not surprised they had questions.

As for the transcript request, I take that as further proof there is uncertainty that the government's case is correct. They are looking at the definition of the law and the witnesses that described Helio's actions regarding the application of that law. Someone is not convinced he had constructive possession of the money.

However, the real concern is: Are they doing this because one or two people need to be connived Helio is not guilty or are they doing this because there are only one or two people that think he is innocent.

Generally speaking if the jury is asking for a transcript they are not convinced as a whole regarding that witnesses testimony or that party's case. If they are clear about something they will not waist time reviewing the testimony.

Only time will tell. The jury will resume deliberations yet again tomorrow, so if you need to you can go back to finishing your own tax-related paperwork tonight.


  1. will-isitmayyet.com // April 14, 2009 5:03 PM  

    I never claimed to be an expert. I just read dockets provided to me and give my understanding of what they say. Similarly, I've got a few people much smarter than me (at this stuff) who give me clarification.

    The only things I claim expertise on, in no particular order, are weather and mustaches.

  2. SandWedge // April 14, 2009 5:45 PM  

    Oh yeah, well I am claiming to be an expert, so hows that? And as such, I am charging gaudy amounts of money for my opinion and expertise.

  3. vitorfan // April 14, 2009 10:26 PM  

    I'll think he'll be fine. The longer this drags out and the more technicalities (sp?) that arise, the more in favor of Helio. I hope to see him in a car in Long Beach. 3 Penske cars!?! Oh yeah! Not trying to be selfish or anything, I really hope this works out in Helio's favor.

  4. pressdog // April 15, 2009 6:15 AM  

    Quick, everybody, hit your "Blogger Random Speculation Mode" buttons! The jury had ham sandwiches for lunch -- HELIO IS GOING TO WALK. Roast beef would have hung him ... (insert head exploding here).

  5. Robert // April 15, 2009 10:12 AM  

    I just asked the Magic 8 ball on my desk (yes all corp. decisions are made after referring to it) "will Helio be set free today" and it said "It is decidedly so"

  6. Anonymous // April 15, 2009 10:13 AM  

    "The questions you have presented are difficult for us to respond to," [Judge] Graham told the panel of seven women and five men.

    To quote my criminal law professor, "Then why is this being prosecuted?"

    On the bright side, at least some of the news stories provide Helio's proper phonetic pronouncement:

    (EHL'-ee-oh kas-troh-NEH'-vehz)

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