LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. -- Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely was indicted in August on charges of theft and using his office for personal gain.
His trial is set for March but prosecutors want to start sizing up the jury pool in the coming weeks.
Friday, the defense said it doesn't oppose questionnaires being sent out. The judge in the case had given the defense until Monday to offer any objection to the proposal. If they didn't object, he said he would allow the questionnaires to go out.
Trial is set for March 9. Prosecutors want to gauge community feelings about longest-serving Sheriff in Alabama.
— Brian Lawson (@BrianLawson15) December 20, 2019
Blakely is Alabama's longest-serving sheriff.
He is being prosecuted by the Alabama Attorney General's office and is charged with 13 theft and ethics law charges. Now, prosecutors want to see what Blakely's deep ties to the community mean for their case.
They've asked the court to allow them to send a questionnaire to the proposed jury pool, starting January 13.
In a Tuesday court filing Tuesday they argued, "A juror questionnaire would be particularly useful in this case because the defendant is the sheriff of Limestone County and has held office for more than 30 years. Since the defendant is a public figure, he is more likely to arouse strong opinions either for or against him."
The filing also argues that because prosecutors could call law enforcement witnesses, including possibly FBI witnesses, they need to know if jurors could be impartial about those witnesses.
The proposed questionnaire seeks detailed biographical information and other details, including contact with law enforcement, arrests, and jobs.
The proposed questionnaire also has some less obvious questions, including:
- Do you live on the east side or the west side of Interstate 65?
- Do you belong to or attend any church or religious organization?
If yes, what is the name?
- Have you ever held a position where you had to manage or be responsible for someone
- Have you ever put political signs in your yard or bumper stickers on your vehicle:
If yes, what did they say?
Prosecutors want to send the questionnaires out in mid-January with the goal of getting them back within two weeks.
They say that will allow the jury selection process to run more smoothly in time for the scheduled March 9 trial date.
Updated Dec. 20 to include defense response to motion.