Mar 16, 2016

After some glitches, jury selection finally starts in the Gary Lee Bullock jury trial

Second day of jury selection. Roll call at 8:40. Even more people missing today.

Second roll call at 8:50. Only two names were called  out of 15 previously with no answer.

Finally, at 9 the courtroom opened and only one empty seat was left for me, after jurors were seated. No other media in court, no family members or friends. Seventy six jurors packed Courtroom 1.

After introductions, one juror was excused for medical reasons. Two other jurors asked to speak with Judge John Feeney and the attorneys privately. Both were excused.

After all this, a panel of 12 were questioned by Judge Feeney, then the defense and then the prosecution.

Bullock's attorney , Mr. Kaleb Cockrum, questioned all 12 before mid morning break. Deputy Deputy District Attorney Andrew Isaac questioned the jurors after the break.

Due to extensive individual questioning of jurors, this morning's jury selection proceeded very smoothly. In the morning session, Mr. Cockrum questioned all the jurors together; Mr. Isaac questioned each juror individually, eliciting laughter and some light hearted moments, especially when he made a reference to Cleopatra, the service dog that belongs to his jury consultant, Mr. David Prendergast who left after the mid morning break. He also said he was going to ask jurors what their favorite book was, "something I have never tried before", that question was popular and potential jurors were eager to share.

DA Investigator John Burke has been seated with Mr. Isaac from the beginning of the jury trial and has attended all court hearings.

Both attorneys focused on general legal concepts such as proof beyond reasonable doubt, presumption of innocence and jury deliberation.

At the end of the morning session, both attorneys "passed for cause". Mr. Isaac did not dismiss anyone for his first peremptory challenge. The defense excused one male juror. As of the morning break, only three men left on the jury and eight women.

Afternoon session will begin with the selection and questioning of the twelfth juror.

The trial is all day Monday through Thursday starting at 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. and noon on Fridays. Twelve jurors and four alternates will be selected.

Jeremy Chen of North Coast News was in briefly after the mid morning break. Court recessed for the morning session, Steven Moore from TS showed up after the courtroom had been closed for lunch.

In the afternoon session, TS  got there at 2:50, a few minutes before the afternoon break. Session ended a few minutes after 4 p.m. No other media today.

At the end of today, People excused only one person and had accepted the panel several times since the afternoon session resumed. One person's circumstances had changed and she was excused due to financial hardship. There were 12 peremptory challenges today, the defense used every single one to excuse a juror and the ones they got a chance when People had accepted the panel and not used theirs.

A jury panel could have been selected as early as 2 p.m. today and alternates could have been seated, but at the end of the day, it was close but no cigar, jury selection continues tomorrow at 8:30 a.m.

So far, the break up of the jury has varied, either 8 women, 4 men or 9 women and 3 men.

California Code and Jury Selection from California Courts:

It is the policy of the State of California that all persons selected for jury service shall ..... 231, shall be entitled to as many peremptory challenges to the alternate jurors as there are alternate jurors called.

 The judge and the attorneys ask jurors questions to determine if the jurors are free of bias (prejudice) or whether there is any other reason why they cannot be fair and impartial; this process is called voir dire.
The law lets the judge and the lawyers excuse individual jurors from service for various reasons. If a lawyer wants to have a juror excused, he or she must use a "challenge" to excuse the juror. Challenges can be for cause or peremptory. There are unlimited challenges for cause and 10 peremptory challenges in criminal cases (20 in death penalty or life imprisonment cases) and 6 in civil cases (Code of Civil Procedure sec. 231).
The process of questioning and excusing jurors continues until 12 persons are accepted as jurors for the trial. Alternate jurors may also be selected. The judge and attorneys agree that these jurors are qualified to decide impartially and intelligently the factual issues in the case. When the selection of the jury is completed, the jurors take the following oath:
"Do you, and each of you, understand and agree that you will well and truly try the cause now pending before this court, and a true verdict render according only to the evidence presented to you and to the instructions of the court?"


  1. Thank you for keeping us posted - from a person who attended Father Eric's daily Masses. I find it difficult to be ok with "eliciting laughter and some light hearted moments" considering what happened to Father Eric. At the same time I do realize that the jurors are impartial and that's a good thing.

  2. I don't think the laughter was intended as any disrespect or directed towards the alleged charges. Jury selection can be intimidating and this was an exchange between potential jurors and attorneys about their own responses. It happened during defense questioning as well. This is one of the best jury pools I have seen.

    If you attended Fr. Eric's daily masses at St. Bernards, then we know each other. Thank you for your comment. I