March 15, 2012 4:29pm PT by Alex Ben Block
'Desperate Housewives' Jury Says It's Having Trouble Reaching a Verdict
The jury in Nicollette Sheridan's $6 million wrongful termination case against ABC over her firing from Desperate Housewives is having trouble reaching a verdict.
The foreperson for the 12-person panel, which has been considering the evidence since closing arguments ended Wednesday afternoon in Los Angeles Superior Court, told the judge Thursday that they hadn't reached a verdict and were having a hard time doing so. The panel also asked the judge to define a word in the jury instructions: “complaint.”
Judge Elizabeth Allen White instructed the jury members to go home, sleep on their thoughts and return Friday at 10 a.m. to continue deliberating, the court's public information officer tells THR.
A verdict requires nine of the 12 jurors to agree. The jury's indecisiveness would seem to favor Sheridan, who argued during the two-week trial that she was written off the show in retaliation for complaining about being hit in the head on the set by executive producer Marc Cherry. During the trial, ABC presented a parade of witnesses who said that the decision to write Sheridan's character off was made in May 2008, months before the September 2008 altercation between Cherry and Sheridan. In response, Sheridan was able to produce only two witnesses whose testimony suggested the decision was made after September 2008. The jury's inability to reach a quick verdict suggests it is weighing the evidence on both sides equally.
Then again, juries in celebrity cases tend to side with the celebrity, and if that's happening in this case, it doesn't look like it's happening unanimously.
Sheridan and Cherry were not present at the courthouse today, though a gaggle of media sat patiently as the jury deliberated. The Sheridan trial—and the "he said, she said" contradictions in tesimony between Sheridan and Cherry—have become a national news story. The trial featured testimony by several top ABC executives, including former entertainment president Steve McPherson and former ABC Studios chief Mark Pedowitz, as well as some of the show's writers and co-star James Denton, whose character's death on the show was first revealed in the courtroom.