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Boswell: Mixed verdict

By Staff
TOUGH ROAD n Lauderdale County District 5 Supervisor Ray Boswell hugs his daughter, Tanya Jay, after his acquittal Friday on three counts of false voter registration. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on three other counts and prosecutors must decide whether to try again. Photo by Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
Feb. 24, 2001
The jury in the trial of Lauderdale County Supervisor Ray Boswell deliberated for an hour and 45 minutes Friday before deciding to acquit him on three counts of false voter registration.
But the jury deadlocked six-to-six on three other counts, resulting in a mistrial being declared by presiding Judge Robert L. Goza on those charges. State prosecutors said they will decide in a few days whether to try again or drop the case.
Earlier in the day, Goza had dismissed two other counts due to a lack of evidence.
Boswell, District 5 supervisor, was on trial for accusations he delivered the false voter applications of six people who live outside his district and attempted to deliver the applications of two others during his 1999 campaign.
The verdicts were read in a packed courtroom filled mostly with Boswell supporters. After jury members had left, supporters gathered around the supervisor, hugging, shaking hands and offering kind words. Boswell hugged and kissed his daughters, who have attended the trial since it began on Tuesday.
Boswell took the stand in his own behalf as the testimony opened on Friday, the last day of the trial. Boswell testified he provided voter registration applications during his 1999 campaign for about 150 people who wished to become register voters.
He gave the jury details of what occurred for each voter registration form that was in question, saying he provided the people with the forms, helped some fill out the forms and gave all the completed and signed forms to his assistant, former election commissioner Barbara Clark.
Boswell said after the trial he had no reservations about testifying because "I knew I didn't have anything to hide. I wanted the people of Lauderdale County to know how I felt."
Closing arguments for the defense centered around an ill relationship between the supervisor and Circuit Clerk Donna Jill Johnson, who is accused of initiating the accusations against Boswell.
Boswell said his hope is to repair the relationship between the two elected officials. After the trial, he publicly extended an invitation for the two to "bury the hatchet and forget everything that has happened in the past so we can work together for the benefit of Lauderdale County."
Marianne Todd is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at mtodd@themeridianstar.com.