Neilson jury deadlocked – deliberation resumes Saturday in “The Case of the Misplaced Modifiers”!

Although the trial of Oxford FBI Agent Hal Neilson was expected to end today, Patsy Brumfield’s story on NEMS360 reports Deadlocked jury to return Saturday:

4:56 P.M. – Judge asks attorneys to come back… Jury wants to leave for the night, still deadlocked. I’m going to excuse them. They want to return at 9 a.m. tomorrow.

Neilson’s case went to the jury around 4:00 yesterday afternoon and adjoured two hours later.  They returned at 9:00 this morning and, apparently deadlocked before breaking for lunch, according to Brumfield’s running account of the day.

It’s Friday, and Hal Neilson’s jury has a question for the court…

It’s 2:09, and the attorneys, plus Neilson’s family and several friends are back in the courtroom waiting to learn what the question is…Aycock says, the question: We have decided one count and we are deadlocked on four counts. Do we understand that we must decide on all five counts…Jury also asks for definition of “substantial.”

Since “substantial” appears in Count One and Count Two of the Indictment , logic suggests these are two of the four deadlocked counts – but this was just the first note the jury sent out and we’ll come back to a discussion of each of the five counts after we follow Brumfield’s narrative to the end of the day: Continue reading “Neilson jury deadlocked – deliberation resumes Saturday in “The Case of the Misplaced Modifiers”!”

“The Case of the Misplaced Modifiers” – FBI Agent Hal Neilson a victim of “selective punctuation” and his “trial by grammar”could result in “run-on sentence”!

Hencefore, USA v Neilson shall be known as the “Case of the Misplaced Modifiers” by decree of Nowdoucit.

A misplaced modifier is just that: a phrase, clause, or word placed too far from the noun or pronoun it describes. As a result, the sentence fails to convey your exact meaning. But misplaced modifiers usually carry a double wallop: They often create confusion or imply something unintentionally funny.

There’s nothing funny in Patsy Brumfield’s story on NEMS360. She reports the jury hearing USA v Neilson has decided one of the five counts of the Indictment and deadlocked on four.  She also reports the jury asked Judge Aycock to define “substantial”.   A form of the word “substantial” appears in counts one and two – and likely those are two of the four counts the jury has deadlocked on deciding.  Unintentional or not, Neilson faces a “run-on sentence” of 25 years and the lost of his pension for 21 years of service to a Government that with the use of “selective punctuation” and misplaced modifiers has subjected him to “trial by grammar”

Little wonder there’s a deadlock!  Take a look at the first count, one of the two similarly written counts using a form of the word “substantial”.

while employed by the FBI, did willfully participate personally and substantially as such FBI employee, through recommendation, the rendering of advice, and otherwise, in a particular matter in which, to his knowledge, he had a financial interest, in that Neilson recommended and advised that the FBI lease additional space in the Oxford FBI Building.

Now, take a look at this comment from the blogging lawyer of North Mississippi:

I’m being told that “substantial” crops up in two counts in the indictment– that Neilson had to be a “substantial” investor in the business.

Given that he was one of three and had enough in it to take out $50K at one point in some form, I’m puzzled that the jury would stick on that point.

The indictment doesn’t charge Neilson with being a substantial investor!  It charges him with being a substantial participant!

I saw it! Now, do you see it?