Several potential jurors are dismissed after admitting that they cannot move past the 1995 murder acquittal of the disgraced football hero and celebrity spokesman
By Stacey Silberman
HOLLYWOOD, CA (RUSHPRNEWS) 9/11/08 – The trial of O.J. Simpson is getting off to a rocky start as the judge briefly halted proceedings Wednesday morning to announce that potential jurors 177 and 194 had been contacted Tuesday night by a man identified as a reporter. Both jurors claim to be unfazed or influenced by the call and the proceedings moved on, according to the Las Vegas Sun.
Another prospective juror told the court how she really felt about Simpson’s 1994-5 acquittal for murder during Tuesday’s session in the Clark County Court while the judge, prosecutors, defense attorneys, defendants and other potential jurors listened. “I felt he got away with murder,” said the unnamed female juror.
The woman was released from jury duty after admitting bias based on pre-existing opinions about the 61-year-old fallen football hero. “I’m very opinionated. I don’t have any problem giving my opinion and sticking to it,” she said.
The woman was referring to the 1994 Los Angeles “trial of the century” where Simpson was tried for murdering ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. The notoriety from the yearlong case is presenting a bit of a problem for all involved in the Nevada case. But District Court Judge Glass is adamant that the court will find a fair and impartial jury of the defendant’s peers, as is required by law, to rule on the case.
However, unbiased jurors are not the only issue plaguing the court. The judge is also concerned about prospective jurors who don’t fess up to their opinions. Plus, there are the potential jury members who may possess ulterior motives. They may want to write a book, make money, or gain notoriety from serving on the jury. Either way, Glass is bound and determined to flesh them out.
District Attorney David Roger also questioned some of the prospective jurors. One told him that O.J. had been a presence in her life both growing up and in adulthood. “I have seven brothers. Mr. Simpson has been around my life. He’s always been there,” she said. “I don’t know what team he played for but I know about the Heisman Trophy. I’m from Southern California. My husband loved him.”
She went on to say that she believes celebrities should be more careful of their behavior in public, according to the Associated Press. “He chose to put himself in the public eye,” she said as she looked pointedly at Simpson. “He should be a little more self-conscious of his actions. It’s different than it would be for me.”
In the end, the woman admitted under questioning by Simpson attorney Gabriel Grasso that she “can’t be 100 percent sure” that she would be an unbiased juror. Grasso dismissed her on the spot.
However, this is not the first time that O.J. has been tried by a jury since the 1995 acquittal. Simpson went to trial in a Florida court in late 2000 on charges of assault in a road rage incident. He was tried by a jury of his peers and found not guilty in that case. So it is possible to find a jury in this country that will not find him guilty based solely on the 1995 acquittal.
The first two days of jury selection have been telling, but there are more days ahead and only time will tell the entire story. The public will simply have to wait and see how the remaining 65 prospective jurors fare. Judge Glass is looking for a pool of 40 prospective jurors who can decide this case based solely on it merits.
At the close of Tuesday’s proceedings, 12 Clark County citizens were passed through to a jury pool that is projected to contain 40. Then attorneys for both sides will make their final eliminations for a jury that will determine the fate of Simpson and his 54-year-old buddy and co-defendant Clarence “C.J.” Stewart.
As usual, the jury will consist of 12 jurors and six alternates. Both the prosecution and the defense are allowed 11 disqualifications each based on their discretion.
Simpson and Stewart will be tried for 10 felonies and 2 misdemeanor counts including robbery, armed robbery, kidnapping, armed kidnapping and coercion. A robbery conviction will require mandatory prison time, while an armed kidnapping offense could mandate life in prison for both men, if found guilty.
SOURCE: Hollywood Today