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Edwards Case Judge Holds Inquiry

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The judge in former Gov. Edwin Edwards' federal racketeering trial met with attorneys behind closed doors today as part of a secret investigation related to the trial.

In between meetings with U.S. District Judge Frank Polozola, attorneys huddled outside the courtroom, but would not talk with reporters.

On Tuesday, there were no jury deliberations. Polozola interviewed each of the 12 jurors and then held an evening session in open court to say, ``No decision has been made on the matter before the court.'' He did not say what the inquiry involved. Today, he did not even say whether the jurors were at the courthouse, though they had been told to report at 9 a.m.

Edwards, his son, Stephen, state Sen. Greg Tarver and four others are accused in a series of extortion schemes to manipulate the licensing of Louisiana riverboat casinos from 1991 through 1997. If convicted on all counts, Edwards, 72, faces more than 300 years in prison.

The jurors began deliberations April 24, but have deliberated for only a few full days. They have either asked to be dismissed early or have waited for the judge to answer their notes before continuing with their discussions.

Attorneys and defendants met privately for about an hour in the judge's chambers on Tuesday. Polozola then called everyone into open court where he revealed that he was going to conduct an inquiry and that the jurors were not deliberating.

The attorneys, defendants and the judge remained in the courtroom for more than 10 hours before the judge unlocked the door to tell reporters that the issue the court faced had to be dealt with privately, outside the presence of the public.

In his morning meeting, Polozola also revealed that on Monday he investigated unspecified allegations about one juror, but decided the allegations were ``frivolous and without merit.''

The juror will remain on the panel, he said.
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