Wednesday, June 17, 2009 at 7 p.m.
During the jury selection phase in a Santa Ana murder trial this afternoon, a twenty-something Orange County Asian male pulled a maneuver I can't recall having witnessed in two decades of covering trials: He guaranteed that he wouldn't become a juror by manipulating both the prosecution and the defense.
This backpack-toting person, whose name is sealed but who claimed he works for a local legal consulting firm that locates experts for litigation, told defense lawyer Derek Bercher that, "I think I have a bias for police officers . . . On average, I think they have more credibility."
Bercher, who represents accused murderer Sandra Jessee, fired back: "Do you remember the Rampart [Los Angeles police corruption] scandal?"
The potential juror, the son of a Boeing software engineer and a postal clerk, smiled: "Not really."
But minutes later this college-educated juror, number 138 of the pool, guaranteed that he'd be rejected by also alarming the Orange County District Attorney's office. He told prosecutor Michael F. Murray that, regardless of the law, he'd hold him to a higher burden of proof than "beyond a reasonable doubt."
"Do you know how that would concern me?" Murray asked, igniting laughter throughout the courtroom.
Sure, the man said.
"So if you were me and somebody said that to you, would you keep him on the jury?" Murray asked.
"It depends," the potential juror replied as he contorted his face and then added the clincher line: "Yes, I'd be worried [if I were you]."
Five minutes later, Murray removed this man from the jury box, where fellow OC residents will be called upon to decide justice in the case of a good man viciously murdered in his Placentia home in 1998.
And how am I sure about this would-be juror's less-than-noble acts? As soon as he walked through Judge Glenda Sander's courtroom doors, but before they had closed, he screamed as if his favorite football team had scored a game-winning touchdown.
--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly