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Argus Leader Media – Region: “Biases create shallow jury pool
Race, sexual orientation among sensitive topics in Daphne Wright trial

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By Josh Verges
jverges@argusleader.com
Published: March 25, 2007

A bowling fan, a cop’s daughter and a bartender walked into a Minnehaha County courtroom earlier this month.

After an extended welcome from the judge, defense lawyer Jeff Larson engaged them in a discussion to get at the following question: If my client is black, deaf and a lesbian, and is accused of killing and dismembering a woman, can you still give her a fair trial?

And in turn, the bowling fan, the cop’s daughter and the bartender revealed their prejudices – before a dozen other potential jurors, the judge, six lawyers, news reporters and the accused killer herself.

Understandably, more than half of the 800 Minnehaha County drivers and voters summoned to hear the capital murder case against Daphne Wright didn’t show up for court.

“Juries are very interesting because you have groups of strangers talking about very different things from what they’re used to talking about,” said University of Nevada-Las Vegas Criminal Justice Chairman Joel Lieberman, a psychologist who researches jury decision-making.

In this case, jury selection probably will wrap up Monday. It will have taken 16 days to qualify 59 jurors. From that number, lawyers from each side will cross off names until they get to 12 jurors and three alternates. …”

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