Jury in Clayton Sheriff Victor Hill trial remained deadlocked Tuesday

The jury in the federal civil rights trial of Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill appeared to stall Tuesday after questions arose over one juror’s ability to adjudicate the case after he allegedly said the sheriff is “above the law.”

In two notes to District Court Judge Eleanor Ross, the foreman of the jury said Tuesday that she and others have grave concerns over the cognitive ability of juror No. 6, who she said refused to listen to others’ arguments, had problems understanding several words and was disruptive when others tried to speak.

She added that the juror said “the sheriff and the president are above the law and not required to follow the Constitution,” and that he did not even trust notes that he took himself during the proceedings.

“With this particular juror, we just haven’t been able to get anywhere,” the foreman said.

Because of that individual, the foreman said the jury remained unable to agree on a verdict in the case against Hill, who is accused of violating the civil rights of seven detainees by strapping them into a restraint chair as a form of punishment. The jury will reconvene for deliberations Wednesday.

Hill has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

The jury began deliberating Friday, six days after testimony started in the highly watched case. Around 40 witnesses were called to the stand by the prosecution and defense, including Hill.

The sheriff, who testified last Thursday, described his actions as lawful and said he used pre-attack indictors — such as the way the men acted before being brought to the jail, including eluding police or assaulting women — as determinants in his decisions to use the restraint chairs.

Prosecutors argued that the chairs were not used for their intended purpose, which is calm a combative detainee who could hurt himself or others or inflict damage. They allege that Hill put the men, all of whom were cooperative and not a threat to themselves or others when they got to the chair, in restraints for retaliation or to assert dominance.

The jury on Monday told Ross it had rendered a verdict on two of the seven charges, but was still deliberating on the remaining five. Defense attorney Drew Findling moved to accept the two charges and for Ross to declare a mistrial on the others. Ross denied the motion and told the jury to continue deliberations.

It also was around this time that jurors indicated to the judge that one juror, who turned out to be juror No. 6, was relying heavily on pre-conceived perceptions and not testimony in the case.

Tuesday’s deliberations began with the court seating one of the trial’s two alternate jurors after one of the 12 original jurors said she could not continue because of back pain. Ross instructed the alternate to join the jury and begin deliberating from scratch on all seven counts, putting the two already rendered verdicts aside under seal.

But hours later the foreman was in court saying juror No. 6 was uncooperative and called his mental capacity into question.

The judge then called juror No. 6 to the courtroom to determine if he could continue serving. The juror told the judge that he was listening, cooperating and following the court’s deliberations guidance. But he said the deliberations have been heated, with him receiving much of the ire because he did not agree with his fellow jurors or didn’t want to answer “yes” or “no” questions.

“I’ve had people scream at me, raise their voices,” he said.

Findling again moved for a mistrial, including the two verdicts already rendered.

“We believe that we have a hopelessly deadlocked jury,” he said.

Federal prosecutor Bret Hobson said the situation is unique and that the Justice Department also had concerns about juror No. 6′s alleged statement about the sheriff being above the law.

Ross again denied Findling’s motion and scheduled the jury to resume deliberations Wednesday.