Jury selection ended with a bang, creating a jury that contains no African-Americans to decide the fate of its two African-American defendants
By Stacey Silberman
HOLLYWOOD, CA (RUSHPRNEWS) 9/16/08 – The O.J. Simpson jury was finalized late Thursday following a grueling selection process sifting through questionnaires answered by a jury pool of 500 Clark County citizens. Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass, prosecutors and defense attorneys ended the process without a single African-American juror, after two peremptory challenges by the prosecution.
Simpson’s lead defense attorney was asked late Thursday how he felt about the jury. “There’s a balancing process that happens,” said Simpson defense attorney Yale Galanter. “What I said in court today I meant. I think that Judge Glass did an extremely efficient admirable job. I mean, we got it done. We questioned all the jurors. We had the questionnaires. And, the judge’s admonitions to the jury I thought were terrific.”
Prosecutors exercised challenges that removed two African-American jurors, providing reasons other than race for their removal. The challenge by the defense, called the Batson challenge, was cleared after the judge reviewed the questionnaires of the two prospective jurors, which revealed other biases on the part of the jurors. The judge eliminated them from the process based on their pre-existing opinions and ability to judge the case on its merits alone.
Simpson, 61, and Clarence “C.J.” Stewart, 54, face ten felony and two misdemeanor counts each against them stemming from an armed robbery at The Palace Station Hotel & Casino on September 13, 2007. Four defendants have already pleaded guilty to one felony count each and have made plea deals with District Attorney David Roger. They are all set to testify against their former friend Simpson. They all have checkered pasts that will be heavily questioned by the defense. According to Simpson, the posse went to the hotel to get back Simpson’s personal “stuff” he says was stolen from his Brentwood home ten years ago.
There are still many jury members who disagree with Simpson’s 1995 acquittal for the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and friend Ronald Goldman, but say they are emphatic about their ability to judge this case based solely on the facts of this case and nothing else.
The jury includes a retired steel salesman, a commercial loan officer, an adoption supervisor, a retail staff supervisor, a pharmacy sales rep, a nurse, a preschool teacher, an airport food & beverage manager, an engineer, and a bank teller (who’s been robbed at gunpoint within the last year). Having an engineer on the jury can lead to surprises during jury discussions because analytical analysis makes it harder to sway a trial jury emotionally.
Simpson and Stewart’s attorneys will have to do their best to discredit the prosecution witnesses and hope that the jury does not believe the testimony against their clients.
The two witness accomplices with the most potential impact against Simpson are Walter Alexander and Michael McClinton who carried the weapons during the crime. Simpson claims that he had no knowledge of the guns. The two men allege that O.J. instructed them to pack the weapons for intimidation during the robbery.
Then there’s the infamous Thomas Riccio who allegedly instigated the whole escapade, tape-recording the entire incident, and selling the tape to TMZ for an undisclosed amount of cash before handing it over to the police for evidence. The tape revealed O.J. barking all of the orders at his accomplices during the alleged armed robbery that left led to Fromong’s call to police that he’d been robbed at gunpoint.
Following Simpson’s acquittal for the murder of Ron Goldman, Ron’s father Fred Goldman sued the Heisman Trophy winner in civil court for the wrongful death and won a 1997 judgment totaling $33.5 million. In a civil trial, the decision is based on a preponderance of evidence, not the higher standard of innocent until proven guilty.
California law protects pensions from being used to satisfy judgments, enabling Simpson to retain his $22,000-a-month NFL pension. After foreclosure of his Brentwood home, Simpson moved from California to Florida, where the law protects a person from having his residence seized to collect a debt. Although much of Simpson’s assets were sheltered or simply disappeared, Goldman did succeed in having Simpson’s Heisman Trophy seized and sold, along with other sports memorabilia.
Allegedly, to avoid having more property seized, Simpson sold memorabilia on the black market for cash. And, reportedly that’s where the victims in this case connected with Simpson. Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley were old sports memorabilia associates.
Large numbers of reporters and spectators are expected to hit the court on Monday for a trial that could go either way, mostly dependent upon whether the jury believes the testimony of a bunch of criminals and shady dealers involved in the crazy plot.
If found guilty of robbery, the men face mandatory jail time. If found guilty of armed robbery or armed kidnapping charges, the men could face life in prison with the possibility of parole.
If convicted, will the all-white jury become a consideration in granting an appeal to the two African-American defendants?
SOURCE: HOLLYWOOD TODAY
Â Photo: LA Times