After a week of testimony and over six hours of deliberation, the jury in the Suiter vs. Pratt County Fair Association trial was deadlocked and 30th Judicial District Chief Judge Larry Solomon declared a mistrial Wednesday morning.


After a week of testimony and over six hours of deliberation, the jury in the Suiter vs. Pratt County Fair Association trial was deadlocked and 30th Judicial District Chief Judge Larry Solomon declared a mistrial Wednesday morning.

“We were set in our ways,” said head juror Ryan Koontz. “We could have been here for weeks.”

Solomon said he and Ray Simmons, lawyer for the Suiters, and Brian Niceswanger, attorney for the Fair Association, would get together sometime in the next 30 days to work out a date for the retrial.

The jury was deadlocked at five in favor of the Fair Association and seven in favor of the Suiters. After the jury was released they met in the hallway outside the courtroom and discussed the issues that led to the deadlock with both attorneys and Judge Solomon.

Koontz, head juror, said the jury was stuck on the term maintenance in association with length of the nuisance, the loud noise from private parties at the Pratt Area 4-H Center on the fairgrounds.

He also said the jury was split on the intention of the fair board. A lack of evidence, specifically how many times were events held and how many times law enforcement was called, was also a problem for the jury, Koontz said.

Solomon said he was surprised at the sheriff’s department lack of notes and records of calls to noise complaints at the fairgrounds.

The jury did agree that this should never have come to trial.

“This should have been settled five years ago,” said juror Lisa Hart.

Knowing the cutoff date when attorneys could request evidence would also have helped, Hart said.

The court encourages the parties involved to work on a settlement, Solomon said.

Niceswanger said the jury was attentive and glad they didn’t come back and say the problem with the noise was intentional. He looks forward to try the case again if necessary.

The Suiters are disappointed that the trial brought no final resolution, Simmons said.

Simmons hopes the dialogue with the jury members after the trial will lead to some discussions that would make another jury trial unnecessary.

In the suit, Dan and Marcia Suiter were seeking a jury ruling that the loud noise from private parties in the 4-H Center would be declared a nuisance and Solomon would issue a ruling that would solve the problem. They sought no monetary settlement, just a ruling on the noise.