Saturday, June 21, 2003

Professor Whitebread weighs in on picking the jury in the Malvo case

University of Southern California law professor Charles Whitebread has this article in the Washington Post, expressing his views on what really is required in terms of a fair and impartial jury, against the backgrounds of the accused sniper Malvo's efforts to have his jury trial moved from Fairfax County.

In particular, he contends: "Most damaging to the criminal justice system and society, however, has been the effort by some courts in high-profile cases to sanitize the juries by excluding all prospective jurors who have any prior knowledge of the case. In the Rodney King police brutality case, for example, videotapes of the beating were aired on television for several months. Prospective jurors were excluded from being seated if they admitted that they had seen those tapes and had formed an opinion about them. It is difficult to imagine anyone not seeing those tapes in 1992 or, having seen them, not having an opinion. Even former President Bush said the tapes 'made me sick.' The exclusion of all 'tainted' jurors in the Rodney King case did nothing more than produce a jury totally unrepresentative of the nation and the community in which the beating took place."

Professor Whitebread is kind of a theatrical, bow-tie wearing character, or at least he was in the summer of 1989 as one of the bar review lecturers in Washington, D.C., when the assembled masses including myself laughed at his many wild tales delivered in between lectures on the criminal law (or whatever it was that he was teaching).

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