GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The jury in Nick Tran's federal drug conspiracy trial told the court it is at a standstill in the case against the Biloxi pharmacist.
Just before 11am Friday, the jury sent out a note saying "the jury is at an impasse and unable to reach a unanimous decision."
Judge Louis Guirola then told attorneys, "I'm going to give them additional instruction to go back in and continue deliberations."
Tran is accused of taking part in a pill mill operation by filling hundreds of illegal prescriptions at his Division Street Pharmacy. According to testimony, most of those prescriptions were written by Dr. Thomas Trieu and Dr. Victoria Van, a husband and wife medical team that ran the Family Medical Clinic next door to Tran's pharmacy.
The government prosecutors were fine with the judges decision to send the jury back to deliberate. Trans defense attorney, David Morrison, was clearly upset with the ruling and made a formal objection.
Morrison said, "It's not fair" if the court tells the jury it must make a decision.
Judge Guirola overruled Morrison's objection.
When the jury returned to the courtroom, Guirola quizzed the jury foreman about whether members had been able to reach a decision on any of the 59 counts against Tran. The foreman said they jury had reached a decision on some of the charges, but did not say how many, which ones or what conclusion they reached.
In sending the jury back to continue deliberation, the judge told the jurors, "This is a most important case."
Guirola also reminded the jury that both sides have spent much time, effort and expense on this trial.
"If you fail to come up with a verdict, this case would have to be tried again," Guirola told the jurors.
He then added, "If it's tried again, there's no indication it could be tried any better than it already has."
Guirola instructed the jurors to consider all sides and told them, "you can be as leisurely as you want, but you must continue."
The jury deliberated for more than seven hours Thursday, and four hours Wednesday afternoon.
If convicted, Nick Tran faces up to 20 years in prison.
Steve Phillips is at the federal courthouse monitoring the deliberations, and will have more later today on WLOX News and WLOX.com.