Oracle-Google jury close to verdict; 'impasse' on one question

Summary:The jury has come to unanimous decisions on all questions but one in the copyright segment of Oracle v. Google.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Just before going home for the weekend on Friday afternoon, the jury almost came back with a partial verdict in the copyright phase of Oracle v. Google at the U.S. District Court.

However, we won't know what they're thinking until at least Monday.

The jury sent a note to Judge William Alsup just after Noon PDT, informing the court that they had come to a unanimous decision on all questions but one -- on which the jury said they were at an "impasse."

Along with Judge Alsup, both Oracle counsel Michael Jacobs and Google attorney Robert Van Nest were eager to move on with the case and hear the partial verdict.

Thereafter, Judge Alsup called for the jury to come back into the courtroom, although the courtroom waited in near silence for several minutes before the five male and seven female jurors entered.

However, it turns out this was more of a boy-who-cried-wolf scenario.

When Judge Alsup asked the jury foreman if they were ready, the foreman replied that not everyone actually wanted to send that note, explaining that the problem was the "timing" of sending it. Only a majority of the jurors believed they were at an impasse, but a few others think that if they wait until Monday, they could reach a unanimous vote on all counts.

The foreman also nearly gave away which question it was that the jury cannot reconcile a unanimous answer, but the judge cut him off just in time.

Judge Alsup looked unsure on how to proceed, calling Jacobs and Van Nest into a sidebar conference while the courtroom waited for a few minutes.

In the end, Judge Alsup said that "experience" had taught him that it would be better to let the jury go home and come back on Monday to vote again. If they are still at an impasse then, it is likely a partial verdict will be read.

However, Judge Alsup sternly reminded the jurors that they are not allowed to do any research of any kind while on the jury.

After the jury had departed the room, Judge Alsup apologized to the courtroom for suggesting that if the jury's partial verdict was read today that the court would be on recess on Monday.

"I'm sorry I brought up the idea of a 3-day weekend," he concluded.

Jury Deliberates for Five Days

To recall, the jury began deliberating on Monday afternoon after lawyers from both Oracle and Google offered their closing statements for the first segment of this trial.

On Tuesday, both legal teams met in the courtroom for a one-hour conference at 10AM PDT, debating answers to jury questions concerning Google’s use of Java APIs from Apache Harmony as well as Oracle’s proposed witness list for the next segment of the trial, which will focus on patent infringement.

On Wednesday, the jury returned with more questions that pointed towards copyright infringement. Although the answer didn’t entirely please Google’s lawyers, Judge Alsup instructed the jury that they could consider both direct and indirect streams of revenue related to Android.

On Thursday afternoon, the jury returned with the eighth note issued during the deliberation period, which asked, “What happens if we can’t reach a unanimous decision and people are not budging?”

At an 8AM hearing on Friday, Judge Alsup asked attorneys from both Oracle and Google for their thoughts about where to proceed from here. While neither side was entirely in favor of a partial verdict, Jacobs acknowledged that could be a potential path. Van Nest was resolutely against the idea, preferring a completely unanimous verdict or a mistrial for the copyrights segment of the case.

Nevertheless, in the afternoon, Van Nest concurred with Jacobs and Judge Alsup to move the case along and hear the partial verdict.

Related:

Topics: Oracle, Google, Software Development

About

Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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