Over the next three days, nearly 1,200 people will be called to sit a Boston federal courtroom, as the jury selection process for one of the most high-profile cases in decades commences. The defendant, Dzhokar Tsarnaev, faces more than 30 charges related to the explosions from the two bombs as well as the three deaths and hundreds more injuries that occurred at the Boston Marathon nearly two years ago. With the marathon attacks still fresh in the minds of so many Bostonians, the next few days are crucial to the whole trial, as attorneys for the prosecution and defense work to find the right jurors.
For that very reason Tsarnaev’s lawyers have attempted to get the trial moved from Boston, arguing that finding impartial jurors there would be impossible--they cited the case of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, whose trial was moved to Denver--however their requests were denied. If convicted, Tsarnaev could face the death penalty, which increases the pressure on jury selection. Trial consultant Richard Gabriel tells KPCC that the challenges faced by defense attorneys are threefold:
- First you must find an impartial jury. Nearly everyone in Boston was affected by the manhunt or the bombing, so this will be difficult.
- Second is finding a juror who hasn’t been exposed to too much pre-trial publicity, which poses another considerable challenge.
- Finally, attorneys must find people who are qualified and also willing to sit on the jury for the next three to four months.
A sample of the questions jurors will face can be found on the Boston Globe.
Today on AirTalk, Larry Mantle will discuss the less obvious factors that go into jury selection, and examine the unique challenges attorneys will face throughout the trial.
Richard Gabriel, trial consultant and author of “Acquittal”