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September 20, 2011

Judge in Currie case wants to select jury from pool of 75

U.S. District Court Judge Richard D. Bennett said Monday afternoon that a pool of 75 potential jurors will be called next Monday for the federal corruption case against state Sen. Ulysses Currie, the Prince George's County lawmaker accused of wielding his power to benefit a grocery chain. Twelve jurors and four alternates will be selected from that group.

No candidates for the jury were present, the attorneys on both sides made their recommendations based on results from questionnaires. Lawyers were not given the names of the possible jurors, only a number for each, preventing them from using Google or social media like Facebook to research their background. (My colleague Tricia Bishop wrote about the practice of masking juror names in yesterday's Sun.)

Bennett revealed some tidbits about the likely direction of the case while overseeing the pre-screening process. The number of African-Americans on the jury could be an issue as Bennett took pains to tell lawyers that 16 members of their pool were black. He noted that was trying to accommodate a request by Joe Evens, Currie's attorney. Currie is African-American.

Bennett was also concerned about anyone with any connection to the state legislature, axing a candidate who revealed in a questionnaire that he'd once delivered the opening prayer to one chamber of the General Assembly. "I tend to think he's a little too close to the flame," Bennett said.
Bennett counted out another -- candidate No. 77 -- because he or she had been FBI agent for 27 years. Prosecutors said they intend to call several agents.

And medical excuses of all types were accommodated including one candidate who needs to deliver a shot to a diabetic patient by 6 p.m. each evening.  "We are not going to sit past 5 p.m.," Bennett said. But he noted "over the course of time things happen" and did not want to be responsible for missed medication.

Defense attorney Joe Evans revealed that the patient is a dog.

"Certainly I'm concerned about the dog and don't want the record to reflect otherwise," Bennett said, excluding the possible juror.

During jury selection next week, the government will be able to strike six candidates. The defense has 15 strikes. Each side can also strike two alternates.

Posted by Annie Linskey at 7:33 AM | | Comments (4)


Its about damn time this corrupt man gets his day in court!

Pigs will fly before Currie is convicted by a Baltimore-based jury.

"He noted that was trying to accommodate a request by Joe Evens, Currie's attorney. Currie is African-American. "

So, Currie and his lawyer have openly admitted they are both racists with that comment.

""He noted that was trying to accommodate a request by Joe Evens, Currie's attorney. Currie is African-American. "

So, Currie and his lawyer have openly admitted they are both racists with that comment.

Posted by: Anonymous "

Huh? What is racist about expressing a desire/concern that the jury pool be diverse? To pretend that any juror of any race or ethnicity will naturally bring all biases (conscious and unconscious) with them to the jury box is naive at best and ignorant at worst. Show me a Caucasian defendant and his attorney who would be thrilled by a jury that contained no Caucasians and only jurors of other racists and I will believe that there is any way this defendant should be thrilled at the idea of jury devoid of diversity.

Prejudices are as natural a part of human beings as breathing. Diversity in backgrounds and viewpoints leading to healthy debates and discussion is how you over come their impact in a group.

Free your mind.

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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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