A federal judge declared a mistrial Wednesday in a case alleging Humboldt County sheriff's deputies used excessive force in 1997 when they applied pepper-spray soaked cotton swabs to the eyes of anti- logging demonstrators.
After jurors in a 1998 federal trial deadlocked 4 to 4, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker declared a mistrial, then reversed himself and dismissed the case in favor of the defendants. He was overturned on appeal, and he then sought to have the case moved to Eureka.
Plaintiffs appealed again, arguing that Walker was biased. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, removing Walker from the case and sending it back for retrial under a different judge. In this trial, two jurors disagreed from the outset that the force had been excessive, several jurors said.