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Jury seated for Kwame Kilpatrick's corruption trial

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A jury has been seated in the upcoming corruption trial of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his three co-defendants.

The jury’s racial make-up was a major point of contention during jury selection.

Kilpatrick’s lawyers have argued that a lack of African Americans in the jury pool hurts the ex-Mayor’s chances of a fair trial.

Marcellus McRae, a former federal prosecutor who’s now a white-collar defense attorney, says it’s fair to consider race as one factor in jury selection. But he says it’s a mistake to assume “black jurors will be more sympathetic to the defendants.”

[“As we’ve seen, human beings are far more complex and individual than racial classification,” said McRae. “Those stereotypes are outdated. And they really don’t have a place, because they’re based on unfounded assumptions.”

The final panel of 12 jurors is made up of 6 whites, 5 African-Americans, and 1 Latino. There are 3 African-Americans among the alternates. US Attorney Barbara McQuade calls it"one of the most diverse juries in recent memory in this federal judicial district ."

On Thursday, Judge Nancy Edmunds is expected to rule on Kilpatrick’s request to move the trial from Detroit. Kilpatrick has argued he can’t get a fair trial in the city because of negative media coverage.

McRae and most other observers think that’s a very long shot. To get a change of venue, “You’ve got to show…that  you’re on the verge of [there being] a denial of due process. And unless that showing is made, it’s not likely that will be granted.”

If Edmunds rejects that argument, as expected, opening arguments are set for Friday.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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