Malheur Protest Trial: Jury Selection – Part 2
by Shari Dovale
The proceedings continued as they had all week. More jurors were brought in and they were questioned on the following points. Whether or not they can serve for an expected 9 weeks of trial, 4 days per week. How they feel about the 1st amendment, and whether they feel it has any limits. How they feel about they 2nd amendment, whether or not they are intimidated by someone carrying guns, and whether or not they own guns.
The potential jurors were also asked their opinions on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS or Mormon). If they have been affiliated with the church, friends or family affiliated, or if they have particular feelings on the Mormon church and it’s teachings.
Additionally, Judge Brown went so far as to elicit promises form all potential jurors that they will vote according to the law, and not how they feel about the law. This means that she is attempting to control the conscience of these jurors and not allow them to utilize their rights to jury nullification.
She discussed, again, that jury nullification is “just not right,” she said. It doesn’t matter how you feel about a law, you must follow it whether you agree with it or not because they took an OATH to do so.
It is very significant that jurors are being told that they must follow their oath, when many elected officials make a point of not following their own oaths. Jury nullification is being shut down in this country. That is what is not right.
Any potential juror that does not jump to this bandwagon is dismissed “for cause” and not allowed to serve.
There were few supporters in the courtroom today, but their presence made a big difference to the defendants in the Malheur Protest Trial. Smiles grew when faces were recognized, yet the US Marshall Service was quick to shut down any familiarity with defendants They called it “communicating” with defendants, just by gesturing or waving. Strictly prohibited.
I do wonder if Judge Anna J. Brown is extra hard on the visitor gallery because it is easier for the government if they shut down any semblance of transparency. The harder she can be on the visitors, the easier it is to get folks to quit showing up to court.
That benefits the government case, and simultaneously hurts the defendants This can be accomplished fairly easily by the Judge in charge, mostly through how difficult she makes it on the visitors.
The visitors are reasonable people. They are attending the trial for a variety of reasons, such as:
- Support for a particular side
- Learning about the law and the process of the courts
- Reporting for news outlets, for those that cannot attend.
The court observers understand that they must be quiet and non-disruptive. I have yet to see anyone removed from the courtroom. However, Judge Brown has not allowed anyone to even bring in a water bottle. This is significant on several levels.
Judge Brown did make an issue of pouring herself a glass of water and talking about how noisy it can be in the microphones. She has made sure the jurors have water, etc, as well as the attorneys and defendants. That is all good, but, the visitors can get dry throats and disrupt the proceedings by coughing, etc. I myself have done that. It is understandable to deny open cups that could be spilled, but sealed and clear water bottles should not be an issue.
This also goes to the problem she has in allowing breaks during the day. Yesterday, she did not allow a bathroom break for 3 ½ hours and never allowed a lunch break. This seems to have been addressed for the jurors today, as she had cookies and chocolate set out for them during breaks. The attorneys also had snacks available at their tables, though I am sure they were not provided by the court.
It is not unreasonable to offer a few small concessions to the visitors gallery, as I am sure it will not be abused. It would go a long way to improving her image in the public eye.
Tomorrow should bring the jury selection process to an end. Opening arguments are scheduled for Tuesday morning, September 13th. The Marshall Service, or more accurately DHS, is expecting a larger turnout of defense supporters, and are preparing for this accordingly. We will be there to let you know how it is handled.