Saturday, June 26, 2010

Shielding Posada Carriles jurors is like playing "hide the football," lawyer says

A U.S. court in El Paso recently unsealed a transcript in the Posada Carriles case. It covers fairly routine court business - the length of the trial, how to handle protesters, identification of jurors, etc. A prosecutor said he'd have witnesses coming in from all over the United States and overseas. Lawyers in the case estimate the trial will last from one to eight weeks.
Arturo Hernandez, a lawyer for Luis Posada Carriles, congratulated the court for changing or keeping secret the date of jury selection in the past so that the public - including protesters - would not know when to show up to the court.

Hernandez said:
...we played around with the date of when jury selection was going to take place pretty much to a hide the football kind of thing so we could get the jurors in and out.
Here's the context of that quote:
MR. HERNANDEZ: Yes, Judge, I want to -- I wanted to, again, perhaps sensitize the Court to a potential issue before we leave the question of voir dire and jury selection because it's -- it's related. And that is, that we have information that there will be protestors during the jury selection procedure. I recalled at -- the last time we were here we did have protestors. And the Court I think, intelligently changed the date or did not publish the date. I don't remember exactly. But we played around with the date of when jury selection was going to take place pretty much to a hide the football kind of thing so we could get the jurors in and out.
It is obviously more of a concern for us than anyone else about jury contamination that underlied our reasons for filing the pleadings that we filed.

What I have is an article from the AP about a group called the Committee for the Release of the Five cuban Spies, who are incarcerated, who, in their web sites have also been talking about having protests at or near the courthouse. What I would ask -- and we spoke about this the last time that we were here back in 2007, that some procedure be thought of that would accommodate for the jurors -- the flow in and out of the building in a way that does not expose them to these protestors. I have no idea whether they're going to show up, have posters, what those posters are going to say. But we did discuss it last time. And the Court did, if my memory serves me correctly, did devise some procedure for the jury meeting somewhere at a different location and then being bussed all together into the courthouse through either the sally port -- I don't recall exactly. But I know that we did have those discussions in chambers. Perhaps the Court recalls. I anticipate the same kind of environment is going to be replayed. And I just wanted to bring that to the Court's attention and see what the Court's thoughts are on that. Basically, that's it.

THE COURT: Mr. Hernandez, again, I appreciate the -- the concern. As you know, we have talked about the high profile nature of this case. The Court does intend to implement procedures to protect the integrity of the trial.
Those procedures, as you saw this morning, have pretty much been put in place. We're having sealed hearings in just a minute. I want to assure you that we are going to make sure that there's no problems with the jury, jury selection or actually once the jury is seated.
And at this point, I haven't decided fully. I'm consulting with the Marshals to make sure how we're going to handle everything. I assure you, you and the Government will be fully informed once those decisions are made. I can't make them in a vacuum. I want to make sure we're fully apprised of everything.

MR. HERNANDEZ: Great. Great. Thanks so much.

THE COURT: You're welcome.

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