Of Counsel

Legal Notes on Georgia and The South

That’s Me in the Jury Box

Posted by Maggie on January 15, 2008

So what do you do when you show up for voir dire (commonly known as jury selection) and see a face you recognize in the jury pool. And not because you know them, but because that person is famous. I don’t know what Deliberations would say, but I’d be hesitant to put any well-known person on a jury. The other jury members might spend more time trying to get some face time or make friends with their new co-jury member, or may give them too much weight in deliberations (or too little, depending on their reputation).

I’d be surprised, mostly, because I wouldn’t expect any famous person to show up for jury duty. But in Athens, Georgia yesterday, R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe showed up as a potential juror in a high-profile case. The case has a multitude of charges, but it’s alleged that the defendant snuck into a middle school and trapped a girl in a bathroom, holding her at knifepoint. He’s charged with attempting to molest the girl, and he was found in the school parking lot.

So did he make it on the jury? Unsurprisingly, no. Stipe was excused for cause after he said he wouldn’t be able to be unbiased since he had been stalked and received death threats.

Jury selection is important in this case, as the defense has requested a change of venue due to extensive pretrial publicity. 16 people were removed for cause and questioning continues today. As judges in cases with venue issues often do, the Judge will rule on the venue issue after they question the jury panel.

(As a sidenote, I hate that. Because they feel if they end up with a pool of people who were unpolluted by the media coverage, there’s no need for a venue change. But it certainly takes away a lot of flexibility in the selection of jurors and makes things much more difficult than if you’d started with an untainted pool to begin with.)

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2 Responses to “That’s Me in the Jury Box”

  1. […] Read the rest… […]

  2. Anne Reed said

    Deliberations would hesitate too, for the reasons you give. Great post.

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