The jury in the Oliver North trial has deliberated for 37 hours over a period of six-and-a-half days and has still not returned a verdict.

While only the 12 jurors know what they have been doing, their prolonged stay should not come as a great surprise. Consider the following:Closeted in with the jury are 363 documents, the exhibits of evidence introduced during the trial, comprising roughly 1,300 pages.

On Monday, the forewoman, Denise Anderson, a 34-year-old hospital secretary, wrote notes to Judge Gerhard Gesell asking for more pencils, notepads, highlighters, paper clips and rubber bands. One of her notes said, "We are reading (no talking)," and asked for more space in which to stretch out.

Several weeks ago, while the jurors were out of the courtroom, Gesell remarked that in his 20 years as a judge at the U.S. District Courthouse, every jury had read every piece of evidence from front to back.

If the jurors in the North trial are doing the same, and if one assumes an average rate of one page per minute, that would mean they have spent well over half of the week just reading.

Also, this is not a simple criminal case in which the jury merely has to decide, say, whether a man killed his wife or not. Oliver North is charged with 12 criminal counts. Furthermore, each of the counts rests on three to five elements of fact, and before the jurors can find North guilty of any one count, they must unanimously accept as true each of its elements.