WHITE PLAINS --A federal judge has declared a mistrial for a state senator and a former Queens Republican leader, while a New York City councilman has opted to go forward with his trial.
Federal Judge Kenneth Karas declared the mistrial Tuesday for state Sen. Malcolm Smith and ex-GOP leader Vincent Tabone. Their retrial is starts Jan. 5, 2015.
The defendants were accused of scheming to bribe Republican party leaders so Smith, a Democrat, could run for the GOP line in the New York City mayoral race.
Former New York City Councilman Daniel Halloran is due back in court next week.
There weren't enough jurors to serve through mid-July at a trial for all three men. The trial will be shorter now that only one defendant is left. But the jury won't have alternates.
The case ran into trouble last week when a witness disclosed the existence of more than 90 hours of secret recordings involving a government informant, including 28 hours in Yiddish. The prosecution had not shared the recordings on the grounds they weren't relevant to the case, but defense lawyers differed and Judge Kenneth Karas ordered full disclosure.
On Monday, Karas denied a motion to dismiss the case, saying the government had not purposely hidden anything. But he said defense lawyers deserve extra time to listen to the recordings and determine whether anything they hear is useful.
"This is about putting together a puzzle," he said.
So on Tuesday, he asked the 12 jurors and three alternates if they could stay on the panel until mid-July. Jurors had been told during jury selection that the case would end this week, and Karas said, "We have to ask if they have conflicts."
He said he couldn't blame any jurors who complained.
Smith's lawyer, Gerald Shargel, said he would need at least two weeks to study the recordings, saying some of the Yiddish translations provided by the government over the weekend were "gibberish." He noted that the government claimed it had found 27 translators, and said there were plenty of "alleged Yiddish-speaking oddballs" whom he wouldn't trust with a court interpreter's work.
He said he wanted to get his own certified translators.
Prosecutor Justin Anderson suggested one week's delay should be enough. He said most of the conversations were irrelevant, citing a five-minute recording that was entirely about "how to spell Ritz-Carlton."