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Entries in Jury Selection (10)

Tuesday
Jun052012

Jury Selection to Begin in Jerry Sandusky Trial

Rob Carr/Getty Images(STATE COLLEGE, Pa.) -- The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Monday denied a defense motion to delay the trial of former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky, who is accused of molesting 10 boys over a 15-year-period.

That means jury selection in the case will get underway Tuesday, with the trial scheduled to begin on June 11.

In asking for a delay, lead defense attorney Joe Amendola unsuccessfully argued that two potential defense witnesses and two experts are unavailable for the trial date, while an investigator is having surgery.

Sandusky has maintained his innocence since being arrested last November in a scandal that cast dark aspersions on the Penn State athletic program and cost legendary head coach Joe Paterno his job.  Paterno, 85, died of lung cancer last January.

In other developments Monday, the identities of eight alleged victims of child abuse will be made public during the trial, Judge John Cleland ruled.

Four of the alleged victims had petitioned to keep their identities anonymous by allowing them to use pseudonyms.  All of the victims have been previously denoted only by a number, such as "Victim 1" and "Victim 2," during the investigation and pre-trial hearings.

However, when the actual trial begins next week, the court will not take any official action to protect their identities as the alleged victims testify against Sandusky, 68, who is charged with 52 counts of child molestation.

"While I will make every effort to be sensitive to the nature of the alleged victims' testimony, once the trial begins the veil must be lifted," Cleland wrote in an order released on Monday.

The victims are expected to testify about the incidents in which Sandusky allegedly molested them, including on Penn State's campus, in the football locker room showers, in the campus hotel Toftrees, in Arizona at the 1998 Outback Bowl Game, and in Texas' 1999 Alamo Bowl game.

If the four victims choose not to testify in light of Cleland's ruling, the prosecution will be left with four other victims as well as witnesses to prove the charges of molestation and child rape against Sandusky.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr192012

John Edwards Trial: 42 Jurors Qualified; Final Selections Monday

Steve Exum/Getty Images(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Eagles has selected 42 potential jurors for the criminal trial of former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards.  The final step, culling the jury to 12 members plus four alternates, will begin on Monday morning, with the trial itself set to begin after that.

Jury selection in the highly anticipated trial began last week, with a large pool of 185 people summoned to the federal courthouse in Greensboro, N.C. Judge Eagles quickly excused about a quarter of those potential jurors, many of whom acknowledged following the case closely in the media. Prospective jurors were asked their opinions of Mr. Edwards, their views on adultery, and their political leanings.

Edwards has pleaded not guilty to all charges in a six-count indictment alleging his complicity in a conspiracy to solicit hundreds of thousands of dollars from two supporters during the 2008 presidential primaries. Prosecutors allege the funds, which were used in part to hide Edwards’ pregnant mistress from the public, amount to illegal campaign contributions because the intent of the scheme was to influence an election for federal office.

Edwards was arrested last June after an investigation that took almost three years. He remains free on a personal recognizance bond and has been living at home with his two youngest children. His wife of 33 years, Elizabeth Edwards, died in December of 2010 after a prolonged battle with cancer.

If convicted on all counts, the former Democratic vice presidential nominee faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr172012

Jury Pool Thinned in John Edwards Trial

Sara D. Davis/Getty Images(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- Nearly a quarter of the potential jurors in the criminal trial of former Sen. John Edwards were dismissed on Monday after the judge determined that many of them had tracked the case too closely and may have had difficulty weighing the evidence fairly, according to reports.

Jury selection is scheduled to continue on Tuesday, as the remaining jurors are questioned in open court by the judge and attorneys for both sides.  The trial is set to open next Monday with twelve jurors and four alternates ultimately selected to hear the evidence and determine Edwards’ fate.

Edwards was charged last June in a six-count indictment alleging his complicity in a conspiracy to solicit hundreds of thousands of dollars from two wealthy donors to support and seclude his pregnant mistress, Rielle Hunter.  Crucially, the indictment alleges the money was used “for the purposes of influencing an election” for federal office, specifically as a means of protecting and advancing Edwards’ candidacy for the 2008 Democratic nomination for president.

For Edwards’ defense team, finding the right mix of jurors in such a high-profile case involving an immensely unpopular defendant is critical and could prove difficult.

“I think that does pose a significant problem for the defense,” says Melanie Sloan, executive director of the advocacy group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which filed a friend of the court brief on behalf of Edwards.  “Everybody in America hates John Edwards.  He was cheating on his cancer stricken wife.  You really can’t get lower than that.  But by the same token, I think Americans can judge facts impartially and they can look at the situation and say, ‘yes, having an affair and doing what he did is terrible, but that doesn’t make it a crime.’”

Edwards pleaded not guilty last June to all of the charges.  His defense team has characterized the money received from the donors as gifts not subject to election finance laws.  There are no allegations in the indictment that any of that money passed through Edwards’ presidential campaign coffers.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr162012

Jury Selection Begins in Roger Clemens' Retrial

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Jury selection begins Monday in Washington, D.C., for the retrial of former major league pitcher Roger Clemens.

Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, is on trial for allegedly lying to Congress about his use of performance enhancing drugs, specifically steroids and human growth hormone (HGH).

The former pitcher was indicted in August 2010 on charges of obstruction of Congress, perjury and false statements.  He is accused of making the false statements to congressional investigators in a Feb. 5, 2008 deposition.  The perjury charges, meanwhile, arose from his Feb. 13, 2008, testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

A mistrial was declared in the case last July after two days of testimony, when prosecutors included portions of Clemens’ February 2008 congressional testimony that referenced conversations former Yankee teammate Andy Pettitte had with his wife, Laura Pettitte, about the use of HGH.  The judge presiding over the trial had barred the prosecutors from referencing Pettitte’s wife before the jury.

During the retrial, prosecutors are expected to present physical evidence saved by Clemens' former trainer, Brian McNamee.  The jury will be shown syringes and bandages -- items McNamee claims he used to inject Clemens with performance enhancing drugs.

Clemens and his attorneys insist he did not lie under oath.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr122012

John Edwards Set to Face Jury in North Carolina

Steve Exum/Getty Images(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- Moments after a federal judge rejected John Edwards’ efforts to dismiss the government’s criminal case against him, the former senator and one-time rising star of Democratic politics stood outside the U.S. District Courthouse in Greensboro, N.C., and pronounced that he is ready to fight.

“What’s important now is that I now get my day in court,” Edwards proclaimed that day last October.  “After all these years -- I finally get my day in court.”

Edwards, 58, an attorney who made his name and built his fortune arguing malpractice cases in North Carolina courtrooms, is now placing his future and his freedom in the hands of a jury of his peers.

More than three years after the federal government launched an investigation into the financing of the cover-up of Edwards’ affair with fledgling videographer Rielle Hunter, jury selection is finally set to begin Thursday morning in a case as controversial as it as salacious.  The events that led to this day seem, in many ways, like ancient history.  Edwards long ago surrendered any hopes of a political future, his once-promising career draped in the shame of an illicit affair, implausible denials and revelations of a homemade sex tape.

And it has been over six years since Edwards and Hunter met in a chance encounter outside a New York hotel.  The first time they laid eyes on each other, she told him he was “hot,” and a sexual affair quickly ensued.  Their daughter born out of the affair, Frances Quinn Hunter, turned 4-years-old earlier this year having spent the first two years of her life with a father who publicly denied she was his.

The trial itself has already been delayed several times, most recently because Edwards needed treatment for a serious heart condition.

The former North Carolina senator was charged last June in a six-count indictment alleging that he was complicit in an illegal and elaborate conspiracy to seclude and support Hunter during the 2008 Democratic primary campaign for president.  If convicted on all charges, he faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and more than a $1 million dollars in fines.

The government contends Edwards, desperate to keep his pregnant mistress out of the public eye as he pursued a bid for the White House, orchestrated a plan to solicit nearly a million dollars from two wealthy supporters -- Virginia heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon, and the late Fred Baron, a Texas trial attorney who served as Edwards’ national campaign finance chairman.

In announcing the charges, Assistant United States Attorney General Lanny Breuer called Edwards’ actions an affront to the integrity of democratic elections.

“We will not permit candidates for high office to abuse their special ability to access the coffers of their political supporters to circumvent our election laws,” Breuer said in a statement.

In the days before the indictment was issued, Edwards, now a single father after the death of his wife Elizabeth in 2010, considered but ultimately rejected a plea offer from prosecutors -- reportedly because the government insisted Edwards serve at least six months in jail.

Instead, Edwards decided to take his chances in the courtroom.  He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges, and his legal team, led by high-profile attorney Abbe Lowell, has assailed the government’s theory of the case as a “crazy and radical” interpretation of election law.  They have characterized the money from Mellon and Baron as gifts that were unrelated to the campaign.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb212012

Jury Selection Begins in Tyler Clementi Cyberbullying Trial

Tyler Clementi/Facebook(NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.) -- Jury selection begins Wednesday in a New Brunswick, N.J., courtroom for the trial of Dahrun Ravi, the Rutgers University student who, with a silent flip of his laptop webcam secretly watched his roommate in a moment of gay intimacy, and unwittingly set in motion a series of events that would make him a national symbol of cyberbullying.

The trial, which will be broadcast live across the country and as far away as India, will culminate a criminal prosecution that many believe would never have happened if not for the fact that Tyler Clementi, Ravi's gay roommate, jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge on Sept. 22, 2010 -- just three days after Ravi electronically captured him kissing a man in his dorm room.

While authorities were only beginning their investigation, the media and public readily connected the dots, and Clementi's death struck a growing anti-bullying nerve in America and became a blog-driven lightning rod for outrage in the gay community.

Although the court of the public opinion condemned Ravi in the immediate aftermath of Clementi's death, two former New Jersey prosecutors say it will be a much more challenging case in the court of law.

"Pressure from gay rights groups, and global media attention made this case one that had to be prosecuted," former New Jersey prosecutor Robert Honecker said.  "Yet the charges themselves are very difficult to prove."

Ravi, now 19, faces up to 10 years in state prison if he is convicted on the multiple counts of invasion of privacy, witness tampering, hindering prosecution and bias intimidation.

He rejected a plea deal in December that would have allowed him to serve no jail time, but require him to perform 600 hours of community service and receive counseling.  The state also assured Ravi, an Indian citizen, that they would recommend to immigration officials that he not be deported.

"The fact that the prosecution offered this plea deal in the first place indicates that they are worried that they might have a tough time in court," said John Fahy, another former New Jersey prosecutor familiar with the case.

Referring to why his client rejected the plea deal, Ravi's attorney Steven Altman said, "Simple answer, simple principal.  He's innocent.  He's not guilty.  That's why he rejected the plea."

The Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office has declined to comment on any aspect of the case.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan102012

Woman on Trial in 1993 Killing of Older Millionaire Boyfriend

Hemera/Thinkstock(SANTA ANA, Calif.) -- Jury selection is underway in the trial of Nanette Johnston, who is accused of plotting to have her lover kill her far older, millionaire fiancé nearly two decades ago so she could collect on an insurance policy and other assets.

Johnston, 25, was the live-in girlfriend of inventor William McLaughlin, 55, of Newport Beach, in a wealthy, gated community in California.

Johnston, a mother of two, met McLaughlin after he responded to an ad she placed in a dating magazine for wealthy men.  Billing herself as a classy and, “well-educated woman who knows how to take care of her man,” she caught his attention. They developed a relationship and she moved in with him.

The pharmaceutical mogul was killed on the night of Dec. 15, 1993, by an intruder who shot him six times in the chest inside his home.

At the time, Johnston was away from the house at her son’s soccer game, but prosecutors believe she gave her lover -- former NFL linebacker Eric Naproski -- a key to the house so he could enter and commit the killing, according to a report in the Orange County Register.

Police weren’t able to bring a case because they lacked evidence, but they reopened the investigation in 2009, re-interviewing witnesses and re-examining evidence. They then charged Johnston, now 46, with putting Naproski up to the killing.

She has denied the allegations, and her attorney said she would never have left her wealthy fiancé, adding that Naproski acted alone out of jealousy.

But prosecutors say Johnston had everything to gain, including a $1 million life insurance policy, $150,000 from McLaughlin’s will, and access to his beach house.

The woman had already been in trouble with the law before regarding McLaughlin’s finances. According to ABC News affiliate KABC-TV in Los Angeles, Johnston -- who is also known as Nanette Packard -- was charged with grand theft in 1995 for allegedly stealing about $500,000 from McLaughlin’s account before and after his murder.  She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one year in jail.

Naproski was convicted last year of McLaughlin’s first-degree murder. He could get life in prison without parole when he is sentenced on Jan. 20.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep132011

Florida Millionaire's Murder Trial: Jury Selection Underway

Comstock/Thinkstock(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- Jury selection is underway in the murder trial of a Florida millionaire who called 911 from his mansion to announce that he had shot his wife in the face.

James Robert "Bob" Ward, 63, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder charges.  His trial will take place in the same court where Casey Anthony was acquitted, marking the second notorious trial in Orlando, Fla., in a matter of months.

On Sept. 21, 2009, Ward called 911 from the couple's exclusive Isleworth home, telling a dispatcher five times that he had shot his wife, Diane, in her face.  Isleworth is a community that was once home to celebrities like Tiger Woods and Arnold Palmer.

"She's dead.  She's done.  I'm sorry," he said in the 911 call.

While being questioned later, Ward told police, "I'm really concerned about my wife and children.  I have two kids in college and it's a nightmare, but we probably need to go ahead and get a lawyer in here."

As the interrogation continued, Ward began to change his story, arguing that his wife actually pulled the trigger and committed suicide as he tried to take the gun away.  Diane Ward had high levels of an antidepressant in her system as well as alcohol, according to court documents.

During Ward's interrogation, detectives noted his oddly composed demeanor.

"James Ward was smiling, and seemed to be in an upbeat mood," one detective wrote in court documents.

Video captured Ward calling relatives to say that his wife was dead, and jailhouse footage caught him dancing and laughing with his daughter and sister-in-law.

ABC News' legal analyst Dan Abrams said that the videos, while disconcerting, may not play a big factor in the trial.

"They make him look odd, they make him look bad, but I don't think it's going to be that significant in terms of guilt or innocence.  These are her [Diane Ward's] family members as well," Abrams said.

Prosecutors argue that Bob Ward's DNA was found on the gun and that Diane Ward was shot from more than a foot away.  Diane Ward was also shot within days of being scheduled to give a deposition in a financial investigation against her husband.  Bob Ward faced allegations that he took money from his companies to support his lavish lifestyle.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May162011

Jury Selection Enters Second Week in Casey Anthony Trial

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(CLEARWATER, Fla.) -- A week into jury selection in the trial of Casey Anthony, the woman charged with the murder of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee, eight jurors are still needed.

Judge Belvin Perry had hoped to open the guilt phase of the trial by Tuesday.  Instead, jury selection enters a seventh day Monday.

The snail-like pace of juror selection forced the trial into a marathon 10-hour session on Saturday.

"Next week, we're going on the Perry plan," Judge Perry told the court on Saturday, hinting he would step up the pace.  Perry wants 12 jurors and eight alternate jurors selected.  Then, he'll begin swearing the jurors in.

Some potential jurors have been caught posting to Facebook the rules of jury selection, others have admitted to having posted opinions about Casey Anthony in the past.  Other snags in the process have included a potential witness being included in the juror pool.

On Friday, day five in the case, six jurors were dismissed from the pool of prospective panelists, and the defense used its first peremptory strike against juror #1011 -- a man who had lied about a DUI in 2006.

The time commitment to the trial -- two months sequestered in a hotel -- has also made finding jurors difficult.

Potential jurors undergo two rounds of questioning and are asked their stance on the death penalty.  If they don't believe in the death penalty, they are automatically excluded since Anthony could face the death penalty.

Jury selection was moved from Anthony's hometown of Orlando, Florida to Clearwater, Florida in an attempt to avoid a media circus.  Judge Perry has hinted that the trial could be bigger than the O.J. Simpson trial.

The selected jurors will be transported to Orlando for the length of the trial.  The trial is expected to last two months.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
May142011

Jury Selection Continues in Casey Anthony Trial

Comstock/Thinkstock(CLEARWATER, Fla.) -- In a week that was supposed to yield an entire jury of 12 members and eight alternates for the trial of Casey Anthony, who is on trial for the 2008 killing of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee, the pace of selection has been painfully slow due to concerns of impartiality amid exhaustive media coverage.

On Friday six jurors were dismissed from the pool of prospective panelists, and the defense used its first peremptory strike against juror #1011 -- a man who had lied about a D.U.I. in 2006. Eight potential jurors are scheduled to return for further questioning over the weekend.

Throughout the jury selection process, which was moved from Orlando to Clearwater, defense attorneys are attempting to ensure that they can place jurors who might be sympathetic to their client.

Potential jurors have been subjected to a barrage of questions by the attorneys ranging from which television programs they watch and how they feel about the death penalty to questions about sexual, verbal and mental abuse by elders.

Every juror on a death penalty case has to be willing to say that they could impose the death penalty -- though it doesn't mean that they will ultimately choose that sentence, it is to ensure that if necessary, they could.

Casey Anthony is accused of killing her daughter, Caylee Anthony, who was last seen alive in June 2008. Anthony has pleaded not guilty to the charges. The child’s death was ruled a homicide of undetermined means, after her remains were found in December less than a mile from the home she and her mother shared.

Caylee's disappearance wasn't reported until July 2008, when Anthony told police she had not seen Caylee in nearly a month, since dropping her off with a babysitter. Anthony was arrested and charged with murder in October 2008.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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