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Gaming Guru

Tim O'Reiley

Juror in Las Vegas Sands trial asks to be kept separate

14 May 2013

LAS VEGAS -- Jury deliberations in the Richard Suen case were interrupted on Monday afternoon after one of the jurors sent Clark County District Judge Rob Bare a note asking to be kept separate from the rest of the jury.

After talking behind closed doors with the female juror, who was otherwise unidentified, Bare sent the entire 12-member panel back into the deliberation room together. Attorneys for both Suen and Las Vegas Sands Corp., which employed him about a dozen years ago to help secure a gaming license in Macau, were also present.

Afterward, Bare did not disclose the details of the juror’s complaint but did send them back to the deliberation room together. However, he reread them a jury instruction about how to conduct themselves behind closed doors.

“It is your duty as jurors to consult with one another and to deliberate with a view toward reaching an agreement, if you can do so without violence to your individual judgment,” according to instruction number 47. It goes on to say that a juror “should not hesitate to change an opinion when convinced that it is erroneous,” yet not vote a particular way because of “the single fact that a majority of jurors, or any one of them, favor such a decision.”

There was no disclosure of what views the juror had that caused the problem.

Suen has requested $328 million in a breach-of-contract case for consulting work he did for the company a dozen years ago that he says helped the company gain its lucrative position in Macau. The company has said Suen did not help at all and says it owes him nothing.

The trial started April 3 and the case went to the jury late Friday afternoon. Jurors have not deliberated over the weekend and have not deliberated into the evening.

Because this is a civil trial, either side wins with just nine votes. If either side gets from four to eight votes, the result is a hung jury.

A trial on the same issue five years ago resulted in a $43.8 million award for Suen on a much smaller request. Then, it was heard by an eight-member jury. The verdict was overturned in 2010 by the Nevada Supreme Court because of the use of hearsay evidence.