Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Simpson's Side Attacks Jurors' Dismissal

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Simpson's Side Attacks Jurors' Dismissal

Article excerpt

In an aggressive attempt to put O.J. Simpson's accusers on the defensive, his attorneys Tuesday requested a formal hearing to determine whether the prosecution was trying to exclude jurors sympathetic to the defendant "in order to engineer a judicial declaration of mistrial."

The defense also took a shot at Judge Lance Ito, asserting that his dismissal of juror Jeanette Harris last week - without a hearing first - "constituted an abuse of discretion in violation of the defendant's constitutional rights to due process and to a fair and impartial jury trial."

Simpson's team suggested, in a motion filed with Ito, that the prosecutors want to derail the current proceeding because they believe it probably will end with a hung jury. So, the motion added, the state is trying to eliminate jurors until their number falls below 12 and Ito is forced to pull the plug.

"The very fact that so many jurors have already been discharged is grounds for grave suspicion," defense attorneys said in the motion but offering no evidence to support their contention. Six jurors have been replaced, leaving a half-dozen alternates for the rest of the trial.

Simpson's lawyers also asked for a hearing into whether any law-enforcement officials or judicial personnel had conducted investigations into jurors' conduct; whether the prosecution had attempted to get specific jurors disqualified; and, in an apparent attempt to establish grounds for appeal, whether Ito had given the defendant an opportunity to sign off on any "post-conviction claim" that might have stemmed from the latest juror's dismissal.

The motion asked that no more jurors be removed without a hearing to determine whether "good cause" to disqualify them exists. And it argued that sheriff's deputies - who currently guard the jury - are biased and therefore should be replaced by civilian court employees, social workers or others not connected to any law-enforcement agency. …

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