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Jury Deliberations in Danny Masterson Continue After Thanksgiving Break Due to Controversial Ruling

Updated: Nov 28, 2022

A controversial legal concept barred in many states allows for the jury to return next week for deliberations.

Danny Masterson starred in “That ‘70s Show” as Stephen Hyde and he’s a known member of the Church of Scientology (Lucy Nicholson/Pool Photos)

Danny Masterson, known for his role in “That ‘70s Shows,” has been on trial for three counts of forcible rape and the jury is currently deadlocked.

According to the 1896 Supreme Court ruling in Allen v. United States, a court can instruct deadlocked jurors to re-examine their views, otherwise known as the “Allen Charge.” Other states, including Oregon, Alaska, and Pennsylvania, have barred the ruling’s use altogether.

Law & Crime reported that Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charmaine F. Olmedo cited the case last week when explaining her response to the hung jury. The foreperson of the jury sent in a note that essentially said the jury couldn’t make a unanimous decision. In some states, a deadlocked jury would lead to a mistrial. In California, though, judges can declare that a jury hasn’t deliberated long enough to declare themselves deadlocked.

Masterson’s lawyer Phillip Cohen objected to the jury not returning until Monday. Olmedo says that trials often break for holidays and that five jurors had travel plans and other commitments.

Revisions regarding the Allen Charge claim that its existing language injects “extraneous and improper considerations into the jury’s debates.” This included a clause that says dissenting jurors should reconsider their views. California’s revision got rid of that language, and Masterson’s jury weren’t told anything like it. 

The Allen Charge thrives in U.S. District Court and some judges wouldn’t read it to juries due to fears of coercing a verdict.

The “That ‘70s Show” actor faces 45 years in prison if he’s convicted. Masterson’s membership in the Church of Scientology has been a huge part of the trial. Olmedo allowed it for five reasons:

  • Why the alleged victims didn’t contact the police sooner 

  • Their fears of becoming a “suppressive person within Scientology 

  • The alleged harassment from the Church of Scientology towards the alleged victims 

  • Past and present ties to Scientology as it relates to their current state of mind

The jurors previously asked to see a poster board shown in closing arguments as well as a police report regarding the first victim who testified, Jennifer B. Both pieces were not submitted to evidence, so Olmedo didn’t allow them to see either. They also requested transcripts of testimony about a phone call between Masterson and Jennifer B., but Olmedo wouldn’t allow that, either. Instead, Olmedo had them listen to the court reporter read back the testimony. 

Masterson’s trial has been quite full of onlookers, including journalists, Scientology lawyers and other representatives,  and former Scientology members. Interestingly, Masterson’s trial is held in the same building as Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct trial.

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