28 Questions Later

What Wasn’t Asked in the First Wone Trial, and What Should Be Asked in the Next

Like all court followers, we’ve had one eye on next year’s civil trial and the other, on DC’s current court-house drama, the Chandra Levy/Ingmar Guandique trial.  Perhaps that’s one result of spending two-plus years trying to unlock an unsolved murder puzzle.are you listening?

Both trials have captured newspaper headlines and evening news updates.  But truth be told, the differences outweigh the similarities between the case of Chandra Levy’s murder and that of Robert Wone.  There’s virtually no mystery as to how or when Chandra died, the evidence linking Guandique to her murder appears (from a distance) fairly convincing (although circumstantial), and once a verdict is rendered that will be that.

And of course, one’s a murder trial…the other wasn’t.  Yet.

Another key difference is that the Guandique trial will be decided not from the bench but in the locked confines of a jury room.  Twelve women and men (with additional alternates) will try to sort through the evidence, experts and arguments and reach a definitive statement about Guandique’s innocence or guilt.

As of this writing, voie direis wrapping as prospective jurors are sized up by the judge, the legal teams and their consultants.  Much like the Wone jury selection would have worked, press can’t see what’s happening but can listen in via mics and a speaker.  TBD.com has been collecting a variety of the media reports and what reporters are hearing from the process.  Many were called.  Only 16 will be chosen…and 12 called to voice.

As per DC Court needs, scores of potential jurors were gathered.  They first received a questionnaire, to help both sides sort out who could be impartial, and who they would most want to sit or strike.   Which got us to thinking…what would the Wone questionnaire have looked like?  And perhaps more importantly, what should it include next fall as the civil trial jury is seated?  Let’s hack a juror questionnaire and see where it goes.

First, a comparison.  As reported by TBDJustice’s Sarah Larimer, the Guandique potentials fielded 55 questions that ranged across the board.  55 may seem like a lot, but as we learned six months ago, the process of jury selection is…delicate.

So…what should be asked of the prospective Wone jury?  Some questions are gimmes: age, gender, occupation, education, time in the District.  Some are obvious filters: have you or anyone in close to you ever been attacked?  Have you ever had dealings with the MPD?  Have you ever been on a trial jury before?  Have you or a close friend or family member ever been accused of assault…or murder?

The Guandique pool was asked extensive questions about gang activity and ethnic – read Hispanic – background.

  • “Do you know anyone who has belonged to a gang or been a target or victim of gang violence?”
  • “In this case you may hear testimony from witnesses who are members of a gang or former members of a gang. Would this fact cause you to automatically reject or disbelieve his or her testimony?”
  • “Do you believe that individuals affiliated with Mara Salvatrucha/MS-13 are likely
    engaged in criminal conduct?”
  • “Do you have any training or experience as a translator of the Spanish language?”
  • “Are you aware of holding any negative feelings or opinions towards people of Hispanic or
    Latino ethnicity?”

More questions follow; among them, media glare and awareness of the big players named in this case.  All, as they say, to sort the most objective jury possible.  Which begs the question: what would an objective Wone jury look like?  Who would the be?  How would they answer the questionnaire.   And what should be asked of them?

Our resident hack has prepared one sample of what the questionnaire should look like.  While we used the Guandique criminal trial questionnaire as a template, we overlaid likely questions a civil jury may be asked as well.   And we wonder what other questions should be asked.

posted by Doug and Craig

The “Wone Trial Questionaire”

The Guandique Questionaire

46 comments for “28 Questions Later

  1. CDinDC (Boycott BP)
    10/22/2010 at 10:43 AM

    “Do you believe that individuals affiliated with Mara Salvatrucha/MS-13 are likely engaged in criminal conduct?”

    wow. That’s a tough question. MS-13 has a reputation that precedes them. They are known for their extremely violent crime and violence WITHIN their gang.

    Just recently several MS-13 members in Takoma Park conducted an “initiation rite” by abducting and raping a teenage girl.

    They aren’t exactly the Rotary club.

    • AnnaZed
      10/22/2010 at 11:56 AM

      So I take it than on question 3 your answer would be, “yes”?

      • CDinDC (Boycott BP)
        10/22/2010 at 12:41 PM

        uh, huh. But if you can change my mind, I’m wide open. 😀

  2. Bruce
    10/22/2010 at 10:56 AM

    Kudos to our creative “resident hack.” This questionaire certainly seems appropriate, but I have one concern.

    One observation:

    The reference to “Gay – Gay Lifestyle,” where it states:

    “The defendants and several potential witnesses in this case are in most if not all cases openly gay and/or lesbian, some of the attorneys may be as well”

    …demonstrates the difficulties of dealing with this subject. My God…some of the jurors may be gay too! Indeed, if there are 12 of them and some alternates, statistics say…….

    Is this another way of saying, particularly since we are not referencing “not out” or closeted gays and lesbians: You may be hearing from and deciding about some real flamers here!

    I’m afraid that the questionaire as written challenges us to try to determine which of the attorneys is gay or not. My God, who will listen to any testimony? Everyone is going to be watching every word and gesture of the attorneys! 🙂

    • Clio
      10/24/2010 at 12:52 AM

      Bruce, who in this story is a lesbian? Who may be transgendered or bisexual?

      To me, out of the inclusive acronym LGBT, this case does seems largely G, and, thus, the Editors’ references to potential “friends of Dorothy” do appear rather appropriate.

  3. Bruce
    10/22/2010 at 11:15 AM

    Oops. Have to respond to that most handsome and intelligent of posters, Bruce.

    Looking more at the questions under “Gay – Gay Lifestyle,” can we really ask in Question #24 if the potential juror is gay? Don’t think so. Hope not. Let’s discuss.

    Looking at questions #28 and #29, why is drug use question under this heading??????????? Why is the fact that one of the defendants is an attorney under this heading???????????

    As to asking the “gay” question of jurors, this is quite an invasion of privacy. That is the biggest overwhelming problem with question #24, and it just has to be thrown out. Why does a good citizen of DC have to, in writing (!), have their personal lives so invaded!

    It is also an easy vehicle for the plaintiff’s counsel to try to knock out all gay or non-heterosexual jurors, or for the defense to try to include as many as possible.

    Sorry, has to go. To me, this is about as bad as asking potential jurors in a case involving heterosexual anal rape, if they have ever had anal sex before or are a fan of it. Ridiculous. As ridiculous as that is, it might be at least “relevant” to the actual issues in the crime. With our case, particularly since there is no clear evidence of sexual assault, there is not even any relevancy.

    Out Out Out, damn spot!

    • Bruce
      10/22/2010 at 11:19 AM

      Bruce, you are an idiot. There IS clear evidence of sexual assault. How about the semen? Huh? Stop stating things as facts without any basis, you douchebag. You are truly beneath contempt.

      But agree with you question #24 has to go.

      • 10/22/2010 at 11:35 AM

        Bruce: You are entirely too harsh on Bruce. Be nice, play nice. You’ll be a happier person, Bruce and Bruce. Less split personality in the process!!

        • Clio
          10/24/2010 at 12:58 AM

          Keep Question #24: we’re all over the closets of the Eisenhower era, Bruce! Stonewall and Anita Bryant were fought to make “invasive” questions such as #24 routine.

          • Susan
            10/24/2010 at 12:56 PM

            Just looked her up. Since back when she’s founded Anita Bryant Ministries, been spoofed in a SanFran play “Anita Bryant Died for Your Sins” and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy for not paying over 100,000 in bills. Anita!

            • Bill 2
              10/27/2010 at 1:22 PM

              The “St. Petersburg Times” had a feature article on Anita Bryant, written in 2002. It covers her Chapter 11 sagas and shows how she mis-treated her employees. One employee who had been signing for deliveries of things to her theater found himself in debt for thousands of dollars because his signature was on the delivery slip. He gave up some of his pay, so other employees could get some pay. As he was being fired, Anita said, “I forgive you and God will forgive you, too.” And she turned around and walked off. http://www.sptimes.com/2002/04/28/State/Bankruptcy__ill_will_.shtml

              Her anti-gay rights campaign resulted in a ban on adoptions by gays in Florida. That ban lasted 33 years and finally ended last week. Look up hate-monger in the dictionary and you may find her picture.

          • Bruce
            10/24/2010 at 1:02 PM

            Well, Clio:

            You must now know how much it pains me to disagree with you on anything. I internally bleed (just a little) at the very thought.

            But despite my earnest devotion, I may have to suggest that your very early morning foray on the computer may have been prompted by an unknown (to you) addition to your Earl Grey, slipped in whilst you were not looking by your dresser, for your early morning disco rendevous.

            Eisenhower was right about warning of the “vast industrial complex,” so maybe he and his times were more prescient than we now think.

            Those times makes one think of the recent sad passing of Barbara Billingsly, Mom to the Beaver and jive talking interpreter on “Airplane.”

            But before I am seen as an apologist or fiftiesophile for the mores of the 50s, let me point out that we don’t live in the past, we live today, and Question #24 has to be put in the ugly wire trashbin of the 50s.

            We live in a world now where the question should not have to be asked, and is of no significance in a court of law, Dear Clio.

            Your post seems to want to suggest it as a relevant issue in a court of law, something I don’t really think you want to promote!

            It is thus born from this caring feeling for you that I do so abuse our firm relationship to contradict someone so nuanced, so usually “spot on,” as they say.

            If for no other reason than that it provides a convenient way for the plaintiff’s attorneys to eliminate persons other than heterosexual, or for the defense to target as jurors the same for the jury, during voir dire, old Q #24 must go.

            While we know there is no real sense or relevancy to this, we can also be assured that the attorneys will look at the answers to Question #24 very carefully during voir dire, and it may even evoke personal questions of those jurors that marked “yes.”

            The attorneys are not going to necessarily apply sense and relevancy and “modern day thinking” to whom they want sitting on the jury.

            My opinion is that both in the 50s and now, we all have some right of privacy, which Question #24 timelessly breaches.

            Further,the argument that determining the sexual practices of a juror for this case presupposes that it is relevant to that person being able to fairly hear the case and decide the issues.

            While being non-heterosexual may give some jurors further insight into some of the facts and allegations, which is a positive thing, the fact that Question #24 is included in the jury survey relies upon a negative and untrue assumption: that non-heterosexual jurors may “favor” the defense, and heterosexual jurors may favor the plaintiff. All based upon false assumptions.

            You and I may both live in a fairly liberal area and environment (I assume, of course, as to your situation) and interact with liberal and moderate persons for the most part.

            But, as you know, there is a vast land outside the cities and coasts, that puts your “we” of your “we’re” in your post in the spotlight.

            Gay and non-Gay jurors can fairly hear the case and make a fair joint decision of all jurors to a case, as I am sure you would agree.

            Sorry, dear, Question #24 has to go. Whether its 2010 or 1957. We don’t ask such questions in our society today, and we don’t ask “Are you now or have you ever been a communist,” today, not when you enlist in the military nor, in most states, when you apply for a job or an apartment.

            Your suggestion that we’re are “all over the closets of the Eisenhower era,” begs the question: Exactly who are the “we” in your question?

            Does that include Virginia Thomas? O’Reilly? Glen Beck, The tea partiers? Alan Keyes? The beautiful yet nutty Michele Bachmann? The conservative justices on the Supreme Court? The farmer in Texas? Indeed, dear Clio, who is this “we” you speak of?

            But, as you have so rightly pointed out in the past, I am never right about anything. So, la-de-da. Never you mind.

            • Susan
              10/24/2010 at 1:36 PM

              Dear Bruce,

              These are dangerous times we live in. There’s no HUAC Committee, but the likes of G. Beck and Co. just create false histories and stories and no longer ask, “Have you now or ever been…” but just tell their Kool Aid drinking followers that their president is, in fact, a Fascist, or Socialist, a Foreigner, a Muslim, etc. And those followers drink and drink and drink it up.

              So, I agree with you, dude. No Q. 24. This is one to not ask and not tell.

            • Clio
              10/24/2010 at 2:33 PM

              Hi Bruce and Susan:

              I do understand your reluctance to go “there,” but that “there” must not remain the love that dare not speak its name in court. Joe and Dyl fought in my Virginia to make gayness a routine and familiar presence, and so wouldn’t this omission of question #24 be a premature b-slap in their respective faces, which had fought (allegedly so hard) for inclusion and openness?

              Unfortunately, a certain gay lifestyle, as interpreted by two of the three male residents of Swann, may have contributed to the events of August 2, 2006, and thus reactions to these subcultures are critical to know in the building of a jury of Culuket and company’s peers. One wouldn’t want Counselor Price, in particular, to have the indignity of an unfair trial due to relevant biases or preferences that have not been screened, would one, Bruce? The question thus should be asked, and the attorneys and judge can then interpret the survey results in any way that they see fit.

              To that question #24, Ginni Thomas, I think, would answer no, but the oiliness of her most recent surprise voicemail to Professor Hill does give one momentary pause. I cannot vouch at all for Michelle Bachmann, though.

              I do know of gay tea partiers, but, just like other quislings, their commitment is based in not liking themselves and who they are. And, these lavender (and lonely) Benedict Arnolds tend not to choose Earl Grey for a nightcap (like I do, how did you ever guess!), Bruce. Sad!

              But the passing of Mrs. Cleaver was/is much sadder: I am wearing a string of pearls just to vacuum right before my husband arrives … in her honor. XO, Clio.

              • Bruce
                10/24/2010 at 2:58 PM

                Dear Clio:

                I do hope you are wearing this afternoon more than a string of pearls in honor of the late Mrs. Cleaver. Heavens!

                I will dutifully respond later to your reply post, as I have some “commitments” this afternoon.

                While I can’t speak for Susan, I do think this is one of those tearful desperate times that you and I must regretfully disagree.

                • Bruce
                  10/24/2010 at 3:16 PM

                  To the Muse, I should have added to the very end of my latest missive,above:

                  …..regretfully [but respectfully] disagree.

                  • Clio
                    10/24/2010 at 9:46 PM

                    Bruce, you’re such a gallant.

                    In that same spirit of bipartisanship, I should have signed off my posts to you in the Victorian way: your humble and obedient servant, Clio. Of course, that sign-off was what Joe probably wanted and got from his “wives” in reality.

  4. Rich
    10/22/2010 at 12:59 PM

    Yea!

    I knew we could get past Casey Anthony Sunglasses, Emerald-Tinged Slippers; Garden Hoses; White & Green Tennis Shoes; The Color Purple; and god knows what else.

    Back to serious conversation.

    Lovely!

    • Bea
      10/22/2010 at 6:42 PM

      I wasn’t able to be online much yesterday, so thanks for the segue for me to say the photo (including his choice of attire and accessories) did not give the impression of him as a man of substance. We all wear things we regret but SHEESH – the little kid sunglasses and tee and shiny white sneaks with matchy stripes? I’m guessing it was taken a while ago given the high waisted jeans and the less-receded hairline. Appears he was in that balding phase of denial – “I’ll comb it UP to trick the eye” (Victor seems to have gone through a similar phase at a different time – only Joe seems to have retained his hair, but the froggy jowls and expanding waistline have more than made up for that).

      • Craig
        10/22/2010 at 9:18 PM

        Speaking of fashion, how will prospective jurors be screened on gay issues, s&m , etc.? It will come up, right?

        And I never heard ‘matchy-matchy’ until I started hanging around you people.

        • CDinDC (Boycott BP)
          10/22/2010 at 11:11 PM

          Most often you hear it on HGTV. Ask Scott Hixson if he thought Dylan was matchy-matchy that day. :>

      • susan
        10/22/2010 at 10:47 PM

        Since we are parsing the photo down to all minutia, it seems to me that he is looking at one person while another is taking the pic.

        Still wonder what is on the t-shirt, and who is reflected back into those sunglasses.

        • Clio
          10/24/2010 at 11:28 AM

          Yet, Susan, it does boil down to the current musical’s concept that it’s not easy being or wearing Green, especially when you’re Wicked!

          To address your other question, Miss Morgan probably took this shot, since Mr. Ward was fully-clothed.

          • Susan
            10/24/2010 at 1:06 PM

            You’re funny!

            I wonder if LD was/is partial to green because of his eyes (green?) or to suggest envy of VZ at the time (green-eyed monster)? Or as a nod to his cash-fundraising gig?

            Then again, maybe he just likes the color.

            • Clio
              10/24/2010 at 8:44 PM

              Susan, Lil Dyl’s eyes are a striking and piercing brown (in person, Birdie told me), just like Needham’s.

              Maybe, in reference to his possible love of the color green, Dyl’s a closet environmentalist, or he’s just a horny toad a la green M&Ms.

              At any rate, why would one forget that one had this remarkable portrait on a Flickr site somewhere in cyberspace?

    • Bruce
      10/25/2010 at 10:52 AM

      Clio:

      We appear to simply disagree on the issue of Q #24 in the fake Wone questionnaire. Which is fine with me. I hope it is fine with you.

      But I do believe that you have gone beyond Q #24 in your reply, to justify your position in your relevant original post. Bad girl.

      I’ll be glad to debate and/or discuss other questions on the questionnaire, but let’s stay on Q #24 here, which is very restrictive: It only asks for the sexuality of the potential JURORS.

      I have gone over my previous posts here on the subject, and don’t have much to add since I think they say it all.

      But a couple things, based upon your reply:

      No one is afraid to go “there” as you say in the opening of your reply post, whatever and wherever that “there” is, as it is left undefined and hanging in the wind. I guess our real difference is that you seem stuck on a “there” that I believe should no longer be recognized in a court of law as to the jurors themselves.

      I find no “there” there, at least as to Q #24.

      Just my opinion, but I don’t think the fight for civil rights of the LGBT community is/was fought for the ability or right or necessity of a potential juror to stand up in a jury box and scream “I’m gay.”

      It was/is fought for equalness of rights, not special rights. It is fought so that Q #24 would be thought a very stupid, silly and irrelevent question to ask, since its purpose would be to somehow differentiate the gay from the non-gay, for no legitimate purpose.

      You have, I’m afraid, in defense of your position, morphed from Q #24 to others, adding to some confusion in your reply.

      My only concern, and I believe Susan’s, is Q #24, which only asks if the JUROR is gay or non-heterosexual.

      Questions as to whether one might have a bias or not fairly treat the testimony of someone who is gay, is an entirely different pot of tea (and not Earl Grey). And more importantly, it is an entirely different question on the questionaire (for instance, see Q #25 and Q #27).

      Q #24 only deals with the JUROR’s sexuality, Clio.

      It does not deal with the possible gay issues in the case, and possible biases, which are separate and different questions! We will be glad to discuss and debate those other questions later, but all I brought up in my posts was the evil Q #24.

      That the case involves gay issues and relationships, and it may be appropriate or not appropriate for jury questions to confront possible biases in that regard is, again, non-Earl Grey, dear.

      I remain your humble and obedient servant.

      • Clio
        10/26/2010 at 11:09 PM

        Bruce, I am heartened that you respect my right to dissent from your analysis. To me, finding out a juror’s sexual orientation is important: we certainly want a diverse jury of Culuket and company’s peers for the decision (hopefully, of guilty) to be respected. Since sexual orientation was such a strong identifier for the defendants, then any bias toward or against them may be detected, along with answers to other questions, by asking the jurors their sexual orientation and/or their attitudes toward sexual orientations other than “straight.” The unmentionable (when 1509 Swann was built in 1886) “there” has to come up somewhere here because of the nature of the case.

        • Susan
          10/26/2010 at 11:24 PM

          Hey Clio,

          I know it’s hypothetical, but then hypothetically they’d never be able to ask (Q 24) unless they give people the right to tell–and without repercussions.

        • Rich
          10/26/2010 at 11:26 PM

          Oddly, I kinda/sorta agree with Clio.

          A jury of one’s peers is paramount and if gay folks are on the jury and they decide innocent or guilty, at least the defendants can feel they had a fighting shot.

          I just think it’s kinda wierd to ask jurors for their sexual orientation as it is really nobody’s business.

          It will be intersting to see how it plays out.

        • Bruce
          10/26/2010 at 11:29 PM

          Clio:

          What to do with the juror(s) who refuse to answer Q #24, as they think it is a massive invasion of privacy and no one’s business but their own?

          What to do?

          Do we throw them out like last week’s wash?

          Do we keep them on the jury and just figure they must be gay or they would take no offense and would have answered the question quickity split?

          Do we demand that they, as citizens called for jury service, answer Q #24 and hold them in contempt of court for refusing to answer a question by the judge?

          Can they take the 5th?

          Or do we just let them leave the room and the case, thus knocking out many gay potential jurors?

          “Are you now or have you ever been a Communist?” Ahhh…..the 50s.

          What to do, Dear Clio?

          • Clio
            10/26/2010 at 11:39 PM

            Well, Bruce, sweetie, you may be right in sketching out these worst case scenarios for Question #24, but when would you introduce the G word in the questioning of potential jurors? Lovers of antiquity and/or daughters of Bilitis could tip Themis’ scales with their experiences and subcultural knowledge.

            • Bruce
              10/26/2010 at 11:56 PM

              Why Clio!

              Read Q #25 and Q #26!

              Again, we are only discussing Q # 24.

              Nite nite

  5. denton
    10/22/2010 at 1:50 PM

    Q.36 – Answer: Unsure. Never heard of the Honorable “Brooe” Hedge who will preside the Wone’s case!

  6. boofoc
    10/22/2010 at 2:15 PM

    ‘scuse me (I’ve not ever had anything to do with a jury trial here or anywhere else), but, must I reveal my sexual orientation in a jury questionaire? What if I refuse? What if I lie? I can’t even be thrown out of the military service (anymore/temporarily).

    • Bea
      10/22/2010 at 6:36 PM

      I don’t really think being asked if one is gay is likely to be on a juror questionnaire. Certainly asking about familiarity/biases/relationships with others would be okay, but I doubt sexuality disclosure would be allowed.

  7. denton
    10/22/2010 at 5:21 PM

    I would be excused all the way to Q.43. Now I want my $4.00 to get home.

  8. Bruce
    10/22/2010 at 6:01 PM

    Should include a “Hell No” possible response to #27 and #42.

  9. Rich
    10/22/2010 at 10:20 PM

    U-N-B-E-L-E-I-V-A-B-L-E!

    Moments ago….

    Bernie Grimm was on FOX TV providing detailed anlaysis of the Chandra Levy case.

    His commentary clearly supported the defendant stating, the only that stands in the defendants way is his priors and nothing else.

    The US Attorney’s office and MPD has nothing.

    Following is the opening para on the web with FOX;

    WASHINGTON – Defense attorney Bernie Grimm of the firm Cozen O’Connor joined the FOX 5 News at 10 to help take a closer look at the jury selection process.

    Go to myfoxdc.com for details.

  10. Rich
    10/22/2010 at 11:34 PM

    Fascinating!

    Bernie Grimm surafaces for the first time since the verdict on the Chandra Levy case.

    Are we going to be seeing a lot of him over the next five plus weeks?

    Is he going to cash out as an analyst on the other most celebrated homicide case in Washington, DC?

    Cannot wait to see.

    • Bea
      10/23/2010 at 2:49 AM

      Does this surprise you? He’s been on Greta as a talking head on most major trials.

      • Rich
        10/23/2010 at 10:34 AM

        Since the verdict?

        I thought he was surprisingly low profile since the criminal trial.

        Maybe, I’m mistaken.

        • Clio
          10/24/2010 at 11:33 AM

          IMHO, Bernie has never been “low-profile”: he’s all about the klieg lights and the live shots. Sound bites are his specialty, as justice and show biz intersect.

  11. KiKi
    10/27/2010 at 8:03 AM

    Regarding the discussion of Q. 24 – I think that there is a legitimate argument that this question would be barred as an undue intrusion on a Juror’s privacy rights. In Press Enterprise Co. v. CA, the US Supreme Court upheld the defendant’s right to a public voir dire but warned that there would be certain questions that could be too intrusive into a juror’s personal life that a public disclosure would be barred. The Court specifically left open the question as to whether and when a juror has a constitutional privacy right.

    However, In U.S. v. Barnes, the 2nd circuit held that in order to inquire into a juror’s private concerns, the party must show that there is no other less intrusive way to determine a bias and prejudice. Thus, if questioning a juror regarding his/her opinions of homosexuals would suffice to uncover any potential bias or prejudice than the party would be barred from inquiring into the juror’s actual status. (even if the alternative questions are seemingly less effective) Barnes deals with almost an identical question regarding a jurors religious practices. The Court found that while questions pertaining to the jurors opinions about religion were acceptable, an inquiry into the jurors religious practice was an improper burden on their privacy concerns. That being said their is a distinction between religion and homosexuality as the former is a constitutionally protected class, where the latter is not.

    However, the test as stated in Barnes – (1) does the question go to unearthing bias? and (2) is there a less intrusive question to uncover the same or similar bias – would seem to apply to any question that seeks to intrude into the jurors private interests.

    Further, as strategy I would never, never ask that question. Voir dire is the first chance the jury has to “meet” the lawyers. Several studies have shown that jurors make decisions about the lawyers from that first interaction. It is hard enough trying to make the juror “like you” when you are asking them questions about potential bias and why their son is in jail. It would be a disaster to ask a juror to publicly state his/her sexuality in an open court room, or even in a closed door proceeding.

    A few years back I had a case where my client was in a homosexual relationship with a “straight” man. We argued that the death was the product of a domestic dispute. However, the state insisted that the victim was straight. I certainly wanted gay or gay friendly jurors but I asked questions such as “is anyone in your family or close circle of friends openly homosexual?” “Have you ever used the “f” word in a derogatory way?” etc. I think that this strategy gave me the jurors I wanted but limited the jurors uneasiness.

    Also just as a separate note, which I won’t go into here as this post is already entirely to long, there is not necessarily a right to a “jury of your peers” in the sense that the jury has to have any similar characteristics. The peers aspect has been interpreted by the Court as simply a requirement that the defendant have laymen jurors as opposed to professional jurors.

    • Bruce
      10/27/2010 at 10:12 AM

      Wow, Kiki. Thanks for the research and the insight!

      • denton
        10/27/2010 at 10:24 AM

        I do think both Bruce and KiKi (criminal and defense together) give us a “good grip” on what to watch out, what to look forward to, what to discard, and what not to ignore.

        Brilliant and superb contributions to both. A layperson like me can “really, really” understand both analysis.

        Now, we wait for the “reality” to kick in, eh!

  12. denton
    10/27/2010 at 9:08 AM

    Kiki wrote:

    …“is anyone in your family or close circle of friends openly homosexual?” et al.

    I think it covers all potential conflicts of Q.24.

    During the jury selection, to be able to serve at our best in the Court of law and to help lawyers select the best jurors, I personally don’t mind being asked “Are you Asian?” In this case we argue re: Q.24 of our personal sexual orientation. I still don’t mind being asked “Am I gay?”

    From a laypersn’s eyes, I believe in being a “non-biased,” “fair,” and “open-minded” person – if you MUST serve the justice, in this argument here “as a potential juror.”

    AND “Be Done With It!”

    Let the lawyers pick/choose whoever they want. They have heavier tasks to tackle and the personal meeting between lawyers and a potential juror in the backroom of the Court (juror room) is just the beginning.

    BUT don’t ask me outside the courtroom neither one of the two Qs.

    I’ll give you stinky eyes!

Comments are closed.