AP Photo/Nick Ut
AP Photo/Nick Ut
The jury is deadlocked, but...it might not matter!
As the panel ended its third day of deliberations at an 8-4 impasse, attorneys for Nicollette Sheridan and ABC are in a settlement meeting in front of Judge Helen Bendix, E! News can exclusively confirm.
So, what does this mean?
If the two sides can reach a monetary settlement, which would presumably remain confidential, it would render the jury's decision—if there ever is one—moot.
"At any point prior to the verdict being read, the parties can agree to any kind of settlement," attorney Troy Slaten (who is not involved in these proceedings) tells E! News.
"Whichever side thinks they have the majority of jurors may be less inclined to settle. But at this point no side should know whether the jury is divided in their favor or in the other side's favor."
"Which ever side thinks they are going to lose is going to be anxious to settle," Slaten added.
"I know how frustrating this is for you," Judge Elizabeth Allen White told jurors today, adding that she would declare a mistrial if they couldn't reach a decision on Monday. The jury foreman told her yesterday they were having a difficult time reaching a verdict.
Slaten says that, if White declares a mistrial and dismisses the jury, either side's attorneys would be free to talk to jurors, who could prove a source of "incredible information" for their settlement negotiations.
"If ABC was the one winning 8-to-4," he said, "that would discourage them from settling and the same goes for the other side."
Earlier in the week, White dismissed Sheridan's battery claim against Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry, thereby excusing him as a defendant in the case. He had previously indicated that he would not be present for any reading of the verdict.
The jury was then tasked with determining whether or not ABC Entertainment fired Sheridan in retaliation for her complaints about Cherry's allegedly bad behavior on set.
"There is nothing in the law that requires them to try and settle at this point," Slaten said. "All the time for mandatory settlement conferences has passed. So, basically, what ABC is probably thinking is 'how much is it going to cost to try the case again and will it be more cost effective to settle rather than go through this again?'"
—Additional reporting by Claudia Rosenbaum