CHARLESTON -- One of six jurors in the Mantz insurance trial read a book as the trial began, in an apparent effort to get thrown out of Circuit Judge Paul Zakaib's court.
Other jurors reported the juror's literary pursuit to a bailiff, who informed Zakaib.
After lunch on Jan. 11, Zakaib kept the jury out of the courtroom so he and attorneys for both sides could discuss the juror's misconduct.
Defense attorney Neil Dilloff asked Zakaib to strike the juror. "We think he wants to be struck," Dilloff said. "Let's grant him his wish."
Zakaib said the juror was self employed and would gain if the court got rid of him. He said, "I could dismiss him but I would be rewarding him for doing something wrong."
Zakaib said he could make the juror an alternate and assign an alternate as a juror.
Plaintiff attorney John B. Williams said he opposed the striking of the juror.
Dilloff said, "I don't want a juror not paying attention, reading a book and irritating other jurors. I don't know if they care about it or not, but I care."
Williams said, "Once he is told, I'm sure he will go back there and get on with the trial."
Dilloff said, "The book is a manifestation of his disinterest. All the book is, is a symbol of his rebellion."
Zakaib asked Williams, "Why do you want him?"
Williams said, "This is the jury we picked. They could have struck him yesterday if they wanted to strike him. We are only an hour into the testimony. Let's see if he behaves."
Zakaib denied the motion. He said the bailiff talked to the juror. He said if the juror did not respond, he would entertain the motion to strike the juror again.