Jury selection begins today in Kilpatrick corruption case

Jury selection begins today in Kilpatrick corruption case

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Kwame Kilpatrick  (Credit: MyFox Detroit) Kwame Kilpatrick (Credit: MyFox Detroit)
SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (MyFox Detroit) -

Jury selection in the corruption trial of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is entering an important stage as candidates appear in court for interviews.

Federal Judge Nancy Edmunds and four defense attorneys will ask questions starting Thursday. The potential jurors will not be identified by name in court.

"Picking the jury, Charlie, is probably one of the most important aspects of any criminal trial.  I mean, it's everything," said Mike Rataj, attorney for Bobby Ferguson.

What type of juror would Kwame Kilpatrick want?

"Someone who hasn't prejudged the case.  Someone that can resist the barrage of all the pre-trial publicity that's going on around this case.  Someone who understands the presumption of innocence," Rataj said.

What type of juror would the government want?

"A compliant person.  A person that respects authority," said jury consultant Stephen Hnat.

A pool of 447 potential jurors were asked to fill out a questionnaire of 122 questions.  Many of those questions had to do with race.

From the 477 potential jurors, 252 were dismissed by the judge, some because they had previous commitments, but many because they just couldn't be fair.  The remaining 225 jurors will be whittled down to twelve final jurors and six alternates.

The only time Kwame Kilpatrick came face to face with a jury was back in 2007 when he was mayor.  The jury was only out about three hours when they came back and hit the city for $6.5 million.

However, that was a civil trial.  This is a criminal trial, and Kilpatrick doesn't even have to take the stand.  Nevertheless, jurors have a way of sizing up the body language even if the criminal defendant doesn't testify.

"At the end of the day will say to themselves and will be comfortable saying to themselves, yeah, they may be guilty, but I'm not going to let the government get away with this," said Hnat.

"Do I know what a juror's thinking?  Every time I try a case, no I don't.  I'm not clairvoyant, Charlie.  Geez, I wish I was," Rataj said.

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