Jury selection for my trial began today. There were a total of 50 possible cuts. Prosecution had 25, and the other 25 were divided between the defendants, with 5 individual and 10 group. The attorneys are concerned that this will make them look like a team, but since 25 isn't divisible by 3, it's a little tricky to sort it out better.
In court with us are my attorney's two aides, both law students. One is a family member, the other an animal rights activist she defends on other matters. They will be helping us select a jury. We debate about where everyone is going to sit, as there are 8 people on the defense side and only room for 4 at the table. My group takes the chairs behind the table so we can talk about the prospective jurors.
We start with a group of 12. They sit in the jury box, state their name, place of residence, and occupation. If they have a spouse or kids they say what their occupations are. Each juror has a form of questions they have to look over and tell the court if they have any "yes" answers to. The questions were things like:
Have you ever been the victim of a crime?
Was the perpetrator ever caught or convicted?
Are any of your friends or family in law enforcement?
There are some automatic disqualifications during this period. Some people have police officers in their family. One man was a victim of police brutality and is shaking as he asks to be excused. We also lose a woman who was at a fundraiser for legal defense for our coarrestees, a man reading The Fellowship of the Ring who is a green party member and had friends in the demonstration, and a man who demonstrated against Cambodia and would never favor police officers over demonstrators. Some people are too conservative.
The first cuts are a man who is not very smart and a man who doesn't understand English very well. Also cut immediately was a man who said he couldn't see what all the fuss was about. He was a loose cannon, half his answers sounded good, the other half were just weird. I notice a man wearing a shirt with sailboats on it. He picks up the forms from the other prospectives as they leave for lunch. Later, he will hang my jury, but now, my first impression of him is that he has leadership skills.
Over the next two days we select the jury. We end up keeping two jurors, numbers 3 and 11, who make us nervous. 11 makes us nervous because she said she would be more likely to believe police officers than civilians, and 3 because she was wearing a flag pin.
Each side in asking questions tried to find out which side the jurors would be biased towards. No one selects to get a fair jury; everyone wants to stack it in their favor, but by weeding out the jurors that the other side likes the theory is that you end up in the middle.
The prosecutor started making veiled references to September 11, 2001 and quoting George W. Bush, the line about drawing no distinction between terrorists and those who harbor them. Before the trial starts, the defense attorneys ask that the word terrorist not be used and that allusions to the September 11 tragedy not be made, as they have no relation to the events and would serve only to bias the jury.
Jury selection takes all day today and all day tomorrow. On Wednesday we have to call for more prospective jurors so that we can pick alternates.
The judge gets increasingly grouchy as jury selection drags on. He blames the defense for taking so long and cutting so many jurors, even though they've only cut one more person than the prosecution has.
Wednesday at noon we have a jury. The judge dismisses them for the Thanksgiving weekend. We come back after lunch so that the attorneys can make motions and argue about the language to be used during the trial.
To see how this started, please see my daylog for May 3, 2001.
For difficulties in dealing with court dates, please see my daylog for May 7, 2001.
The charges against me are listed on May 10, 2001.
For an account of my first arraignment hearing, please see my daylog for May 24, 2001.
For an account of my bad dealings with my codefendants, please see my daylog for May 30, 2001.
For an account of my second arraignment hearing, please see my daylog for June 22, 2001.
For an account of my decision to go to trial, please see my daylog for October 31, 2001.
For an account of pretrial matters and my journey to LA, please see my daylog for November 17, 2001.
For an account of my codefendant's plea bargaining, please see my daylog for November 24, 2001.
For an account of my testimony, please see my daylog for December 5, 2001.
For my verdict, please see my daylog for December 13, 2001.