Jury selection begins today in Oath Keepers seditious conspiracy trial


HR King
May 29, 2001
Jury selection began Tuesday in the highest-profile trial yet stemming from the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, with five members of the extremist group Oath Keepers, including founder Stewart Rhodes, facing charges including seditious conspiracy.

A panel of Washington, D.C., residents reported for in-person vetting by prosecutors, defense attorneys and U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta at the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse for a trial they have been told could last six to eight weeks. Another four co-defendants charged in the same nine-person indictment will begin jury selection and face a separate trial in November.

The jury pool for the first trial was winnowed down from 150 D.C. prospective jurors called to answer a written questionnaire. The document inquired about matters such as their availability and potential knowledge of defendants, witnesses and attorneys in the case, and their views on the Jan. 6 riot.

“Would you be able to set aside anything you may have seen about this case or read about this case in the past, and decide it based on the facts and evidence presented at the trial and the law as I instruct you?” Mehta asked Tuesday morning to the first wave of 28 D.C. residents called to the court for questioning.
Rhodes and the others stand accused of conspiring to use force to oppose the lawful transfer of power to President Biden. Prosecutors say his group called for civil war and staged firearms near D.C. on Jan. 6, when supporters of then-President Donald Trump attacked the Capitol. A 44-page indictment alleges that the group went to the Capitol ready “to answer Rhodes’ call to take up arms,” and that several breached the East Capitol Rotunda doors wearing camouflage vests, helmets, goggles and Oath Keepers insignia.
Rhodes and others have pleaded not guilty to all charges, which are punishable by up to 20 years in prison. They say they acted defensively in case Trump invoked the Insurrection Act to call up private militias to overturn the 2020 election results and stop Biden from becoming president, and are prepared to argue they relied on advice from their attorney.

Mehta has said he expects the selection of a jury of 12 members plus four alternates to take at least two days, meaning opening statements would not begin before Thursday or — since proceedings will not be held Friday — the beginning of next week.
In pretrial hearings, attorneys have already haggled over who should be excluded from serving on the panel. Prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed to strike 13 prospective jurors for various reasons. Rhodes asked to disqualify another 72 of those remaining, but Mehta agreed to dismiss only 16 and said the rest would be screened in person.
It is not unusual for defendants in high-profile prosecutions to assert that prospective jurors harbor “extreme prejudice” or hostility toward them.

Supreme Court precedent holds that to be impartial does not mean that jurors must be ignorant. Appeals court rulings say that the question is not what potential jurors know about the case or think about the defendants in general, but whether they are so biased against those on trial that they cannot be impartial in deciding whether they are guilty of the charges.

Mehta said Tuesday that one-third of the 29 initially excused were because of bias, one-third for unavailability and one-third for various other reasons. The judge rejected defense allegations that more than half of the jury pool was biased, and that an impartial jury could not be seated. But he struck the first potential juror questioned Tuesday, a government relations employee with a health industry trade group who said, “I would have a tough time being fair,” because of his political views and strong feelings about the events of Jan. 6.



HR Heisman
Jan 26, 2004
So far, unsurprisingly, it doesn't seem to be going to well for the defendants. Legal process is slow, baselessly declaring victory over the internet is fast.
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