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Reverberating Courtroom Forces Mistrial; Lawyer Files Motion for Fix

Posted Aug 17, 2010 8:44 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The echo in a Mississippi courtroom is so bad that a judge declared a mistrial in a personal injury case last week.

Judge Lisa Dobson declared the mistrial after jurors raised their hands and said they couldn’t hear the testimony, WLOX ABC 13 reports. Juror Jonathan Caston told the broadcast station that the mistrial left the plaintiff in tears because she had waited years for her case to be heard.

"The sound in there was such a bad echo you couldn't hear the lawyers, you couldn't hear the judge, you couldn't hear the witnesses," Caston said. "You found yourself trying to infer what everybody was saying, especially the witnesses."

The story says the problem surfaced last year when the 102-year-old courthouse reopened after extensive repairs for damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. An acoustical expert told WLOX News last year that the room he tested “resonates or reverbs approximately three and a half seconds too long.”

Lawyer Jimmy McGuire told WLOX he is worried the problem will affect an upcoming trial for one of his own clients, and he has filed a motion seeking to force a fix. County board members are expected to discuss the problem at a meeting on Wednesday.

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