First, We Bitch-Slap the Lawyers

Whats it like to be a prospective juror in the Haidl case?

Photo by James BunoanBased on the Weekly's coverage, it's a good bet none of us will get appointed to the jury in the gang-rape trial involving Gregory Haidl, son of Orange County Assistant Sheriff Don Haidl. But we've lucked into the next best thing: an interview with one of the case's prospective jurors, who here shares what it was like to be considered for the county's highest-profile case. We've agreed not to name the person, who when asked about fixing the American legal system would not go so far as to say we should kill all the lawyers, but did agree "a few of them could use a good bitch-slap."

OC Weekly: Based on their questions, where are the defense and prosecution likely to go with this trial?

Prospective juror: The defense all but told us where they were headed when they questioned the jurors, and it won't surprise anyone. Basically, they intend to bring this girl's entire sexual history into play, paint her as a sex-craved slut and prove some form of prior consent to the acts in question. It sounds as if they'll also try to prove that group sex among teens isn't just happening, but that it's a currently acceptable party trend that takes place all the time. But a prostitute can be raped, and a man with no prior convictions can be a rapist . . . so I don't know that those arguments will really help the defense. Did you get the sense the defense wanted a certain type of juror on the pool and was aggressively booting certain types?Definitely. One juror was excused, from what I could tell, simply because he happened to be a young, good-looking guy who might know that group sex isn't common in our age bracket. Looked to me like they were mostly releasing people who weren't easily led. Anyone who displayed too much common sense was gone before you could blink. They seemed to hang on, mostly, to retired men. What was the most bizarre question you were asked during the process?I was asked if I had a bumper sticker on my car and if I had ever used a sex-toy. Also, in the questionnaire, we were asked if we had ever visited cigarettesluts.com or whorecastle.com. Had you?No, I hadn't visited either website. But I'm sure they got a few more hits after this questionnaire gave them the free advertising. What was the most unusual or bizarre thing you heard a fellow juror say?We were asked, in front of the defendants and all these people (I'm guessing about 200, maybe?), to talk about sexual assault or abuse in our own lives or the lives of those close to us. One juror broke my heart when he revealed that his first wife had been a victim of a rape in the apartment they shared—and that the rapist had slit her throat. It was agonizing. One guy, probably just to get out of the pool, flat-out said, "They're guilty. I mean, there's a videotape, right?" Did that guy get on the jury?No, he was dismissed following the lunch break. The defendants were in the room the entire time. What was your impression of them?On first entering the courtroom, before I knew anything about the case, they were sitting there next to the lawyers, and I thought they must have been interns. They have the appearance of typical, clean-cut young men. Did the defendants do anything unusual?Not really. Greg Haidl seemed very interested in what was going on and was often discussing things with his lawyers. In fact, he seems to have a permanent look of surprise or curiosity on his face. He seems "apart" from the other two. Kyle Nachreiner and Keith Spann were always together, both in and out of the courtroom. They were motionless almost the entire time—very serious. They always disappeared on breaks and were never around Greg outside of the courtroom. At least not that I saw. Greg hung with his father and the lawyers. Would you like to bro down with the judge?Judge BriseƱo kicks ass. He has a great sense of humor. But when push comes to shove, he seems like a guy who doesn't put up with any shit. What was your impression of the attorneys?Greg's lead attorney—[Joseph] Cavallo—seemed like a bona fide sleaze. He all but admitted he was an ass during our questioning. In fact, almost the entire ham-fisted defense team turned my stomach. Except for Keith Spann's lawyer. He conducted himself quite well and seems like the most decent of the bunch. On the flipside, the prosecuting attorney [Dan Hess] was careful, kind, intelligent and seemed very capable and likeable. What was the feeling among the jury pool about wanting to serve on this jury? Were they looking forward to it or dreading it?Definitely most were dreading it. A few who admitted they would like to serve were grilled by the defense, who suggested they had some hidden agenda. Did the judge tell prospective jurors to keep quiet about the whole process?Not specifically about the jury-selection process, but about the case, yes. We were asked to try not to read anything about it and not to discuss it with one another. Basically, what you might expect. We were also warned not to talk to any of the lawyers, defendants or their family members. How would you describe this process?Aggravating. Disturbing. Maybe even a little scary. Based on what you experienced, do you feel these guys will get a fair trial?I think they will. I worry about what the "alleged victim"—that's what they called her—will have to endure in that courtroom, though. The Haidl trial began Monday, as the Weekly went to press.
 
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