In high-profile cases like CA v. Conrad Murray, jury selection can prove to be the most critical step in the entire trial. Before the jurors even report to the courthouse, the prosecution, defense and judge agree upon a questionnaire to present to the potential jurors. After the questionnaires are completed, the selected jurors are then questioned by both sets of attorneys in a process called voir dire. Voir dire means "to speak the truth." Throughout the voir dire process, the prosecutors and defense attorneys are given a set number of peremptory strikes in which they can eliminate a potential juror for no specific reason.
On September 8, 84 citizens arrived at the Los Angeles Superior Court to fulfill their civic duty. They answered a 30-page questionnaire consisting of 113 questions. It took defense attorneys and prosecutors in the Conrad Murray trial more than two weeks to whittle the pool down to seven men and five women. The selection of these people may prove to be the most important step of the trial, as these are the people who will decide Murray’s future.
Six of the jurors identify themselves as Caucasian, five Hispanic and one African-American. They vary in age: The youngest is 32, the oldest is 57. According to court records, here are more details on the people who will decide whether Murray is guilty or not guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Michael Jackson:
Seat #1: A 51-year-old male of Mexican origin. He lives in Whittier, California, and works as a letter carrier for the United States Postal Service. He is married with three children, two stepchildren and six grandchildren. He has never served on a jury and considers himself a fan of Jackson’s music.
Seat #2: A 57-year-old white female. She lives in Alhambra, California, and has been in the area for five years. Her husband declared bankruptcy in the 1970s. (Conrad Murray has also declared bankruptcy in the past.) She is divorced with two children and has grandchildren. She likes to read, garden and listen to NPR. She followed the O.J. Simpson case.
Seat #3: A 45-year-old white male who lives in West Los Angeles, but was born in Charleston, South Carolina. He has an MBA in Management Consulting and considers himself an expert in computer system implementation. He has served as a juror on two criminal cases, one in 1994 and another in 2000.
Seat #4: A 32-year-old white male from Eagle Rock, California. He served in the U.S. Army National Guard for eight years and currently works as a bookseller. He served as a juror in a civil case in 2009 and has both positive and negative views of Jackson, saying, “I think he was talented and I think probably a good person. I am aware of allegations as to his treatment of children but have not drawn any of my own conclusions without having personal knowledge or seeing any evidence.”
Seat #5: A 48-year-old white female from Temple City, California. She is married with two children and has worked as a paralegal for 30 years. She followed the Casey Anthony trial on and off because she had a family member who was very interested in the trial. She thinks famous people are treated differently in the court system because “the court system is so overburdened that they could not handle the security needed if a celebrity were in jail.”
Seat #6: A male of Cuban/Mexican origin who lives in Tujunga, California. He holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and works as an associate director in product management. He formerly worked at TV Guide and his wife is currently employed by Dreamworks Animation. He served on a jury for a civil case in 2007 and saw the last few minutes of Jackson’s documentary, “This Is It.”
Seat #7: A 54-year-old female who describes herself as Mexican-American. She lives in San Gabriel Valley, California, and is married with children and grandchildren. Her daughter was a drug and alcohol addict but has been clean for five years. She, like Murray, declared bankruptcy in the past.
Seat #8: A 42-year-old Hispanic male who was born in Mexico. He currently lives in Lynwood, California, and works as a school bus driver. He is married with four children and one stepchild. His father-in-law died of alcoholism. He was the foreperson on a jury in 2010 regarding a civil matter.
Seat #9: A 54-year-old African-American male. He lives in North Hollywood and works as a technical director in television. He has never been married. His father died from alcoholism when he was nine years old. He has served on three juries -- two criminal cases and one civil. When asked if he would like to serve on the jury, he responded, “Celebrities don’t excite me, I’m only interested in justice.”
Seat #10: A 43-year-old mother of two. She was born in Birmingham, England, and recently became a U.S. citizen. When asked if she would like to serve on the jury, she said, “I see this opportunity as a privilege and my civic duty to do the right thing.” She has a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and considers herself an expert in medical marketing.
Seat #11: A 36-year-old Hispanic female. She lives in Whittier, California, with her boyfriend and has two children. She is employed as a worker’s compensation insurance tech. She filed for bankruptcy in 2003 or 2004 for personal credit card debt. She was shot in a drive-by shooting in 1993. She formerly worked as an administrative assistant in a family practice office for 11 years. She served on a jury in a criminal case.
Seat #12: A 54-year-old white male from Altadena, California. He met Jackson and is a retired animator who worked at Disney and other studios. He is divorced with no children and had a DUI. He considers himself a fan of Jackson, calling him a “gifted performer.”