The jury for the Michael Jackson trial has been chosen with very surprising rapidity: only five total court days and 2 1/2 days of questioning by attorneys. The process of choosing eight alternates is under way. The panel ranges in age from 20 to 79, and includes whites, Latinos and one Asian. There are no black jurors although there is one black man in the pool of possible alternates. Opening statements could begin as early as next week.
One thing is clear, Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville runs a tight ship. Jury selection moved very quickly after he imposed a time limit on how long each prospect could be questioned.
No one is covering the trial better than the hometown Santa Maria Times:
- Jurors have a broad variety of life experiences.
The 79-year-old panelist is a woman whose grandson is a registered sex offender.
Another juror helped a niece who told her about being molested by a family member.
A juror from Solvang works as a horse trainer and riding instructor, and a Santa Maria juror uses a wheelchair and is studying to be a motor-sports journalist.
One juror's first language is Spanish, while another first learned to speak Indonesian.
Several jurors are in their early 20s, and most are middle-aged or senior citizens. No jurors are between the ages of 22 and 39.
Most have at least some college education, and some have postgraduate degrees. Eight of the jurors are parents, but most have grown children.
The SM Times has a complete breakdown of the jurors here.
Prosecutors used peremptory challenges to eliminate two black women from the pool, including a 51-year-old Lompoc woman who complained that her husband, a retired Santa Barbara County deputy sheriff, was denied promotions within the department because he was black. She also questioned the racial composition of the jury pool.
“Just look around us. A jury of his peers would be people of his age and people of color, mixed diversity,” she said. “How diverse is this jury looking to you right now?”
Jackson reportedly nodded in approval at many of the woman's comments.
I understand and sympathize with the woman's underlying point, but there is no little irony in the fact that Jackson has voluntarily mutated himself into a cohort of one. Who, exactly, would his "peers" be? Where would they find twelve fabulously wealthy, deracinated cosmetic surgery victims?
Judge Melville also said several more names had been added to the witness list, including Eddie Murphy, Macaulay Culkin and Smokey Robinson.