When attorneys work a big trial like that of Amy Bishop, they’re always careful when it comes to jury selection.
But in a case like this one, it’s not about which jurors the two sides want.
“It’s who you’re not looking for is a better way to put it,” according to Attorney Ron Smith.
Even though Bishop pleaded guilty nearly two weeks ago, the jury still served an important purpose today.
Smith points out, “People don’t have to agree to the verdict , and our state requires 12 unanimous jurors in agreement.”
That strict legal standard leaves no room for error.
Though usually prosecution and defense show up with very different jurors in mind, that’s not so in a case like this.
Smith explains, “The defense would be looking at somebody whose views were extreme on one side, and the state would be looking at defense minded jurors to strike. In this case, you’re looking for both, because you don’t want anyone on either side to come in there and have a mistrial and have to go through the process again.”
Though tomes of legal precedent fill Smith’s office, the precedent he uses for this case, is framed on his wall. It’s a movie poster.
“I like to talk about a movie 12 Angry Men as a good example of that. There’s one juror in there who basically holds his ground, and nobody can make him change his mind. And that’s how it is with every jury.”
Avoiding that pitfall, may have been the biggest legal victory of the day.
It couldn’t have been easy.
The court started out with a big jury pool this morning – they had 191 people come for jury duty.
Some jurors were sent to other trials, and the pool was quickly narrowed down to 40 for Bishop’s trial.
From there, attorneys from each side traded picks striking people, eliminating them one by one until they had 12 jurors and two alternates.
Those eliminated included several teachers, including one from Discovery Middle School, and a UAHuntsville student.
Of those selected for the jury, there are six men and eight women.
Among them two retired people, an RN, an attorney, a nurse practitioner, two missile defense employees, a hospital pharmacy tech, a former elected official, and more.
Of course, specific identities of jurors have to be kept secret.
But now we have an outline of the jury for one of the most noteworthy cases in the Tennessee Valley in some time.