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Jury selection today for Kilpatrick trial, juror biases to be vetted

Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick
Michigan Radio
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Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick

Today at 9 a.m., jury selection officially began for the federal government's case against Kwame M. Kilpatrick, Bobby W. Ferguson, Bernard N. Kilpatrick, and Victor M. Mercado.

The four defendants are charged with public corruption for rigging water contracts and extorting city contractors through the mayor's office for personal gain.

The trial is expected to last 18 weeks.

The court describe's today's proceedings:

Jurors will be questioned primarily by the court, although the judge may permit the attorneys to ask limited questions. Twelve jurors and six alternates will be selected. The government will have ten peremptory challenges, and the defendants will have twenty?two peremptory challenges. Jurors will be identified only by juror number.

The Detroit Free Press reports the court has a pool of more than 200 potential jurors to choose from. And that some might be classified as "stealth jurors." People coming to the court with an agenda.

Experts say that though some prospective jurors in high-profile cases might lie to get rejected, others might lie to get accepted -- either because they have an ax to grind with the accused or the government or they want their 15 minutes of fame.

The Freep reports uncovering these biases might be more difficult since the judge overseeing the case, U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds, has barred lawyers from doing background checks on prospective jurors.

Mark Brush was Michigan Radio’s Digital Media Director. He succumbed to a year-long battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in March 2018. He was 49 years old.