Local News

Attorneys In Peterson Case Work Hard To Find Ideal Jurors

Posted May 9, 2003
Updated December 9, 2006

— The first week of jury selection in the Mike Peterson case has wrapped up, and there's still no one seated on the jury.

Prosecutors only questioned two potential jurors Friday. One woman told lawyers her cousin is married to Mark Simeon, who ran against Jim Hardin last year for District Attorney.

The other potential juror warned he wouldn't be able to return a fair verdict because he didn't think he could remember all the testimony.

So far, jury selection is moving at a snail's pace. Attorneys are working hard to find ideal jurors for the case.

That's because there are no second chances once the jurors are seated.

"Once they're there, they're there," said local law professor Irving Joyner, who's familiar with the process. "Their view is unchallengeable."

Selecting a jury isn't an exact science. But there is a lot of strategy that goes into the process, and both sides in the Peterson case have specific qualities they're looking for in a juror.

As Peterson studied a juror's questionnaire, a jury consultant sat quietly behind him. Peterson's attorney added the consultant to his team last fall. She'll play a major role in the defense's attempt to find the perfect jury.

"They'll come up with a profile of the ideal type of person," Duke law professor Irving Joyner said.

Joyner said the defense is probably looking for someone who is highly educated and someone with more liberal views.

"They're more open-minded," he said, "accepting of different lifestyles and how things could happen."

They may also want more men on the jury -- jurors who can relate to Peterson.

On the other hand, Joyner said the prosecution is looking for someone who abides by the law and respects it.

"Someone who has depended on police officers and trusts what they say and do," Joyner said, "and accepts the notion that if there's nothing here, the government wouldn't have brought charges in the first place.

Joyner said prosecutors may want a juror who is more conservative. He also thinks they'll aim for a more female-oriented jury because they tend to be more sympathetic regarding domestic-violence issues.

Court administrators summoned a larger pool of jurors for this case because of the publicity surrounding it and because of the length of time it's supposed to take.

On Monday, about 100 new potential jurors will enter the mix. They will be used as "backups" in case 12 jurors can't be found in the first pool.


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