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Whitewater Judge Leaves For Convention

Even as the jury continued deliberating the fate of two Arkansas bankers, the judge who handled the Whitewater trial for six weeks turned the case over to a substitute jurist while the judge attends a convention in Florida.

U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright plans to attend an American Bar Association convention in Orlando the remainder of this week. After a few days of vacation, she is scheduled to return to Little Rock on Aug. 8, a court official said.

Meanwhile, the jury failed again Wednesday - the fourth full day of deliberations - to reach a verdict in the trial of bankers Herby Branscum Jr. and Robert M. Hill. They are accused of illegally using their bank to further Bill Clinton’s political career.

The eight men and four women had sent a note Tuesday saying they were deadlocked.

But deliberations resumed Wednesday morning. After eight hours, Wright’s replacement, U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Eisele, sent a note to jurors asking them to put a check mark next to one of two questions: Go home for the night or keep deliberating.

The jurors opted to go home until this morning.

The trial had been scheduled to last only two or three weeks. But on Monday, it entered its seventh week. Wright said she has had the convention trip set for more than a year.

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