Monday, October 22, 2007

Day One - Afternoon

Philip Munger: The first day of jury selection ended with conclusion of the first phase of Voire dire, related to screening out people predisposed against the case one way or another by exposure to the media or to other people involved in this or the other related Veco corruption trials - past, or publicly scheduled for the future. 56 possible jurors were interviewed. Five were excused for health or work-related reasons; one white male, because it was felt he was too hesitant in unqualifying his predisposition.

The most humor came from the next-to last person interviewed, a70ish white female, with a crusty sense of humor and major reservations about law enforcement procedures. Given that her husband is a law enforcement professional, she was given a lot of time to explain both this issue and possible discomfort because of a physical malady. Judge Sedwick, when questioning her about how much she or the court might be inconvenienced, was startled when she replied "I've been living with this for 20 years, Honey!" The courtroom erupted. Kohring seemed to be waiting to laugh until he knew it would be OK to let it out.

When questioning this crusty Alaska matron about her media reading habits, she replied "I read the funnies, the advice columns, the letters to the editor, then the front page. The important things first." Sedwick quipped back "I read the obituaries first - to make sure I'm still alive."

Anchorage attorney and libertarian political activist Wayne Anthony Ross - who is on Kohring's legal team - kept coming up. Everybody seemed to know him. I know him. Fred James knows him. Other aspects of Alaska as biggest small town in the world cropped in there, too. Anchorage AM talk radio is a concern of both the prosecution and defense. No surprise there. They're just trying to weed out the nuts who seem to spend too much time being brainwashed. Loose cannons can't help either side.

John Henry Browne is fascinating. To say the least. He claimed to the judge during the morning session that his direct, friendly attitude toward prospective jurors is just the way he is, not a technique. I'm not so sure. But he is very engaging and gregarious. During the late afternoon recess, I approached him outside the courthouse, introducing myself. I told him that in my research of his past cases I realized he was the attorney who had been pivotal in the reversal,
about a decade ago, of the outrageous cases in Wenatchee, Washington, of a number of people falsely convicted of child sexual abuse by a cabal of really strange people.

Browne told me "I'm more proud of that than of anything else I've done."

"You should be - nobody else had any balls, until you stepped up" was my response. Browne beamed. I hope to find time to talk to him about that before this trial is over.

Tomorrow morning will be general 2nd stage
Voire dire. The hope is that the afternoon session will be taken up with opening statements.

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