It's getting strange down at the courthouse, folks.
After a 10-week trial, the jury in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia sex abuse case has decided they need some time off for family events, like graduations. So on Thursday, after Judge M. Teresa Sarmina approved their request, jurors walked out of Courtroom 304, to get an early start on a long weekend.
The jury of seven men and five women that began deliberating last Friday afternoon are off this Friday. On Monday, they'll be coming in around 1 p.m. and hopefully put in a full afternoon, before they are scheduled to leave around 4:30 p.m. On Tuesday, they're expected to deliberate again, but Wednesday, they're off, and Friday they're off again.
So if they go the full route on Tuesday and Thursday, the jury will deliberate at most 2 1/2 days next week.
Usually, juries measure their time in terms of minutes and hours, and can't get out the door fast enough. But this jury seems to be digging in for the long haul. They've already ordered a marker board and an easel. Lunch today was from Chick-fil-A. This could take a while.
"I've never seen anything like it," said one veteran courtroom observer, who left the Criminal Justice Center shaking his head.
The jury didn't ask any questions of the judge. Meanwhile, journalists were camped out in the courtroom from The New York Times, the CBS Evening News, CNN, Reuters, AP, The Philadelphia Inquirer, NBC 10, CBS 3, 6ABC, and Fox 29.
The only event the press corps got to cover was the judge announcing the jury's long weekend. After the jury was dismissed, William J. Brennan, the lawyer for defendant Father James J. Brennan, was on his way out the door when he saw an old friend, Vernon Odom of Action News.
Brennan took a seat in front of Odom and soon, the two were deep in conversation. From the bench, Judge Sarmina reminded Brennan that she had a gag order still in effect that's supposed to prevent lawyers in the case from talking to the press.
"Judge, I've known him for 25 years," Odom said, before explaining that he and Odom weren't discussing the case, they were playing Godfather trivia.
Brennan stumped Odom when he asked who played Clemenza. Odom could not recall Richard Castellano.
But the wily Odom got back in the ballgame when he asked Brennan who played Al Neri. Brennan couldn't remember Richard Bright.
As the judge glowered disapprovingly, the two men were overheard talking about Barzini and Tattaglia as they left the courtroom, discussing a rubber match.