Saturday, March 11, 2006

Verdict Announcement Brings No Visible Reaction from Jensen

Rep. Scott Jensen sat stoically today as Judge Steven Ebert read the verdict of guilty on all counts in his political misconduct trial.

The nine-woman, three-man jury announced their verdict at about 11:45 a.m. today, after nearly 17 hours of deliberation. The jury chose as their foreman a man who during selection said that he worked for the state Department of Agriculture, and served on a village board.

Despite the tension in the courtroom, Jensen, wearing a dark suit, had little outward reaction as the verdict was read. Friends and family who were present in the courtroom seemed to have their breath taken away. Jensen's mother wept as his sister put her arm around her shoulder. Jensen's wife didn't attend, staying at home with the couple's children and with friends.Jensen's co-defendant, Sherry Schultz, also had little outward reaction as the judge announced that she, too, had been found guilty.

In a brief statement to the press outside the courtroom, Jensen became emotional as he thanked his friends and supporters. "My family and I will be deeply grateful to them forever. They have been amazing with their prayers and their support over the last few year," he said.

Schultz left the courtroom through a back exit, avoiding reporters.

Before excusing the jurors, Ebert thanked them for their duty, and commended them on their copious note-taking. "It's obvious you've given this matter a great deal of thought because you've been out for many hours on this matter," he said.

Ebert said he would like to schedule sentencing within 30 days, which was OK with the prosecution, but not the defense attorneys. They asked for more time to consider their arguments, and Ebert said the date will be set for some time in late April or early in May.

A legal source who had been following the trial expects the Jensen team to file an appeal within the next 10 days, possibly on the grounds that the jury should have been chosen from a pool outside Dane County.

The length of deliberation, the source said, could hurt Jensen's chances of a successful appeal because it "shows they had a jury that thought long and hard about it."

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