Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Weeding out Hudson fans who would do anything to rule “guilty” for her

Every criminal case has its own unique characteristics when it finally gets to court, and they’re usually more bizarre than anything that television can come up with in its attempts to portray courtroom drama.

Although I have to admit that reading about the preliminary actions leading up to the trial of a man facing criminal charges for the slayings of relatives of actor Jennifer Hudson has struck me as odd.

ALTHOUGH IT ALSO gives me a sense of déjà vu, because I recall the time I was called for jury duty at the Criminal Courts building. Because that was for a case with its own unique set of questions.

What prosecutors and defense attorneys are trying to do is find a pool of people who are, not quite ignorant, but not so inclined to be biased that they will give knee-jerk reactions in favor of one side.

In this case, the attorneys don’t want a jury of 12 fans of Jennifer Hudson who would be so eager to get on her good side that they’d rule “guilty” to any charge that gets put forth against William Balfour – the man whom prosecutors say killed Hudson’s mother and brother.

That’s why jurors are being asked if they have ever seen the films starring Hudson, or read the book about her, or have seen her on television or might be delusional enough to think that Weight Watchers’ diet program can give them Hudson’s body – just because she endorses their products.

SUCH QUESTIONS ARE unique to this case, and have gotten this jury selection process news coverage whereas most trials don’t get covered until opening arguments take place.

But it isn’t unique to try to weed people out. Because I still remember the day in September 2005 that I did jury duty and wound up being questioned by prosecutors and defense attorneys – before they ultimately settled on other people and let me go.

In that particular case, the attorneys were eager to weed out people with specialized medical knowledge, or anybody who might have close ties to medical people or might have enough contact with them that they would have picked up some of the medical knowledge for themselves.

For that particular case was an attempted murder. The neighborhood grocery store owner (who was working the cash register at the time) was shot, but survived.

ALTHOUGH HE DIDN’T come through the robbery attempt unscathed. The bullet wounds caused serious damage to his body and he now only breathes because of significant amounts of equipment to which he is attached.

Prosecutors were planning on making great hay out of his current physical condition and had plans to go into detail about his medical treatments.

So why no doctors? Prosecutors had plans to provide jurors with just enough information about the medical condition so that it could be interpreted their way. Attorneys weren’t really interested in anybody who knew anything on their own and might come to different conclusions than the legal people wanted them to reach.

I didn’t have any medical knowledge, other than the little trivial tidbits that I have picked up in some two-plus decades of being a reporter-type person. But I still didn’t get picked, although I didn’t get all concerned about learning an exact reason for why I didn’t wind up losing a couple of weeks of my life to a jury (which can happen in criminal cases).

IT HAS ME wondering how many people tried to get out of being picked for this jury just by claiming to have seen the film “Dreamgirls?” That certainly would be a unique reason for getting bounced from the jury pool.

And considering how “big” a star everyone likes to think Hudson is, it will be interesting to see a pool of people picked because they don’t have a clue who she is.


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