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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Recent Events: Why I Haven't Been Posting Much

I recently had to serve jury duty in federal court. That is why I haven't blogged much over the last couple of weeks. I ended up getting put into a special pool for a case, and due to the nature of the case the judge gave us stern warnings not to do any internet research related to the case.

To comply, I stuck to only national politics, avoided local radio and TV news, and since I had to disclose the existence of this blog, I backed away from it for a few days.

I got a call about an hour ago saying I had been excused from the jury. That is good news since it was going to be about a 5 week trial. But I was also disappointed as I feel I would have done an excellent job as a juror, and I would have ruled fairly and impartially in the case.

Though I believe I can now talk, and even write, about the case, I think I will leave it at this, except to post this Detroit News article. Yes, I am the conservative blogger mentioned in this article.

Click here for story: 15 potential jurors seated in Riddle trial

UPDATE! Det News took the story down, here it is:


Last Updated: January 11. 2010 7:12PM
15 potential jurors seated in Riddle trial
Paul Egan / The Detroit News

Detroit -- Jury selection for political consultant Sam Riddle's political corruption trial in federal court is to resume Tuesday after 15 prospective jurors were seated Monday.

U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn wants to assemble a pool of 31-35 prospective jurors before government and defense lawyers use challenges to whittle the number to 15.

The trial itself will start Jan. 25 and is expected to last a month.

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Of 100 prospective jurors who filled out questionnaires in the case, 33 were excluded by agreement of government and defense lawyers and not asked to show up at the courthouse Monday because of obvious bias or hardship issues.

At about 12:30 p.m. Monday, Cohn began one-on-one questioning of the remaining potential jurors. Of the 19 he questioned Monday, three were excused because serving on the jury would be a personal or financial hardship and one was excused because she told the judge she had already formed an opinion in the case.

Among those seated was a conservative blogger who had written in his blog about former Detroit City Councilwoman Monica Conyers, calling her a "typical liberal" who "interjects race into almost every issue."

Riddle faces extortion-related charges stemming from his time as a top aide to Conyers, who pleaded guilty to bribery this summer. At least one of the charges he faces alleges he delivered a bribe to Conyers.

But Cohn ruled the blogger could be seated in the jury pool after the man told the judge he can set aside any opinions he has about Conyers in giving Riddle a fair trial.

"She's not on trial here," said Cohn, who rejected arguments from Ann Arbor attorney John Minock that the man should be excused from the jury because of bias.

Although he is now in the pool, Minock has the option of using one of his "peremptory challenges" to remove the blogger from the jury, without stating a reason, later in the selection process. The defense team gets 10 such challenges; the government gets six.

Other prospective jurors questioned Monday included a flight attendant from Auburn Hills, a retired technical writer from Dearborn, a recently retired prison guard from Jackson, an information systems worker from Lake Orion Township, an office worker from Pontiac and a machine operator from Temperance.

Cohn Monday denied a motion filed Saturday by Riddle's lawyers asking for a delay in the trial because there were too few blacks in the jury pool.

In the motion, Riddle's attorneys said only nine out of the 100 prospective jurors who filled out questionnaires were black, as is Riddle. The eastern district of Michigan is more than 20 percent black.

Cohn said it's not required that the percentage of blacks on the jury mirror the percentage of blacks in the community, as long as blacks are not being systematically excluded from the jury pool.

"I am not unfamiliar with the efforts this district has put forth to comply with the Constitution," Cohn said. He said he will issue a written opinion stating more fully his reasons for denying the motion.

Cohn also denied a motion filed Monday to delay the trial, except to grant a one-week delay that he earlier said that he would probably give Riddle's attorneys. The trial was initially supposed to start to Jan. 19.

Riddle's lawyers, Minock and Edward Wishnow, said in a court filing there are too many recorded telephone calls picked up on wire taps, which number in the tens of thousands, and pages of grand jury transcripts and other documents for them to review to be ready to go to trial in the first corruption case.

"Counsel have both worked diligently to prepare for the trial, but it is clear that they will not be able to adequately prepare in the allotted time," the lawyers said. "There is simply too much material to be reviewed and absorbed, particularly the phone calls."

Riddle also faces a later trial in federal court on charges he and his former live-in companion, former state Rep. Mary Waters, bribed former Southfield City Councilman William Lattimore in connection with a pawn shop relocation.

Riddle also faces state charges stemming from an alleged domestic assault on Waters shortly before Christmas.

pegan@detnews.com (313) 222-2069

From The Detroit News: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:RF2Nzx_YR-wJ:detnews.com/article/20100111/METRO01/1110386/15-potential-jurors-seated-in-Riddle-trial+riddle+conservative+blogger&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us#ixzz0kKql6yaT


Also, here are the related past posts that the article alludes to:

Monica Conyers: "African-American people cannot be racists"

More Monica Conyers

The Menace Returns: More Monica Conyers!!

P.S. I apologize for some of the podcasts no longer being available in the above links. Deminski and Doyle left their radio program, and the podcasts were apparently taken down. But at least you get to see what I said about Monica Conyers that became an issue during my jury service.

2 comments:

Writer X said...

That would have been an interesting case. I hadn't heard about it; now I'm interested in following it.

nanc said...

So now you're semi-famous?