Malheur Protest Trial: Jury Selection – Part 1
By Shari Dovale and Aubrie Bosworth
The Malheur Protest Trial got under way today with jury selection beginning, after a few other issues were dealt with by the court.
One of the prominent issues when court convened was the dress of the prisoners being incarcerated. Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy and David Fry were out of jail scrubs, but were obviously set apart from the other defendants in the clothing provided to them. They were wearing white socks, had no belts or ties, and the clothing did not fit properly.
They really looked poor and gave quite a negative impression to at least a few witnesses in the gallery. Judge Brown, however, commented that they looked better than many that worked in the building. She did concede to Ammon that he should have dark socks.
The last few weeks had the defense attorneys, government prosecutors and the court whittling down the jury pool to about 60 people. The criteria has been harsh against the defense, and today was not much different.
Brown began by asking the potential jurors about brochures being handed out on the sidewalk. These brochures were detailing citizen rights in Jury Nullification. Brown seemed to be attempting to ‘guilt’ the jurors into disavowing jury nullification. She told them that they took an oath to apply the law as it is written regardless of how they felt about the law.
When one juror did not jump on board with this belief, she questioned him to the point of badgering, including asking him to cite specific examples of what laws he had a problem with.
I wish that I could have spoken up, as I could have cited a perfect example of jury nullification, and that is Prohibition. If not for the citizens use of this right, most of America would still be drinking bootleg liquor in the backrooms of saloons.
That juror was the first one removed from the jury pool for cause.
There were 31 people in the seats today as they processed them through voir dire. Judge Anna Brown was pretty
harsh on the defense attorneys when they listed specific questions they wanted asked of the potential jurors. We are “not taking the time to do individual voir dire,” Brown stated.
She tried to ask general questions of everyone, but even those were very telling. Asking each potential juror if they were affiliated with the LDS (Mormon) church, for themselves or their family and friends. Several jurors said they had family members associated with the LDS church, and one man stated very clearly that he has been Mormon his whole life.
Brown then went on to ask these folks if they thought this church’s teachings were “extreme” or different, meaning not “the norm.” These questions led one juror to retelling an unrelated story which described an incident that made her frown on the LDS religion. Brown responded by saying, “Obviously not a problem in this case.”
Judge Brown continued with more questions, such as asking some of the people if they were “activists.” One particular juror was recognized by a witness in the courtroom as having been at the Malheur Refuge during a “counter protest.” But, there is no harm, no foul here because this person was removed for cause.
Judge Brown was unreasonably hard on everyone today, when she went about 3 – ½ hours before allowing a bathroom break, and never even allowing a lunch break. It wouldn’t have been so bad except she doesn’t even allow a bottle of water to be brought in. I certainly hope there are not too many diabetics, etc in the courtroom, if she continues this way. Maybe they should have paramedics on hand for the next 9 weeks?
After all was said and done, today’s total jurors were trimmed down from 31 to 20. There is another full day planned for tomorrow of jury selection.
Let’s see if she is just as unreasonable then.