Jury Questioning Ends (Sept. 17, 2008)

Defense and government attorneys brought in the last 16 jurors on Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2008, ending the jury questioning process of the Holy Land Foundation retrial.

The first couple of potential jurors questioned on Wednesday said they had no prejudices against Arabs and Muslims.

The third individual, however, did have one major concern: Since she travels frequently to predominantly Muslim countries, she was concerned that some people from those countries could seek revenge against her if they she was a juror in this case.

From a scale of 1-10, how strong is your fear toward the case? asked defense attorney Nancy Hollander.
“9 or 10,” the redhead woman replied. She was dismissed from the pool.

To one Hispanic woman who had straight shoulder-length hair, Israelis are the chosen people of God, and that was part of the prophecy.
When a prosecutor asked her if she could put her Biblical beliefs aside, she hesitated then concluded that she could. But when a defense attorney asked the same question, she admit that her opinions were probably not going to vanish during the trial. After plenty of flip-flopping, the judge kept the woman in the jury pool.

One elderly White woman with small eyes and gray short hair said she made an effort to learn more about Islam about a year ago by looking it up on Encarta, an online encyclopedia.

“I discovered that Islam is a religion and Muslims are the followers,” she said.

What a genius discovery.

One White man had a few preconceived notions on Muslims and Palestinians that would not allow him to be an impartial juror.

He didn’t agree with what he thought was a major Muslim (ABSOLUTELY FALSE) belief: “If you don’t think like them, then you shouldn’t exist in this world,” he said with a purely ignorant tone.

The man, who’s dating a Jewish girl and has befriended a few of his girlfriend’s cousins from Israel, also told the attorneys and judge what he thought about Palestinians: “Palestine is trying to take over Israel and wipe out the Israeli Jewish population,” he said.

Defense attorney Linda Moreno told him there will be lots of photos and documents that will demonstrate the Israeli “brutal occupation,” so she asked if his prejudgment about Palestine will affect his ability to be an impartial juror. He said he would be biased, and the judge dismissed him.

Another potential juror with an opinion about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was a male programmer analyst.

“I think both sides are screwed up,” he said, adding that it’s “madness” that Palestinians and Israelis haven’t been able to co-exist.

He also said he would think FBI agents’ testimonies would be more accurate and thorough than other testimonies. But he wouldn’t let any of these judgments affect his ability to be fair.

“I’m not an easy person to bamboozle,” he said.

Perhaps he bamboozled himself into thinking he’s not easily bamboozled.

An elderly White female with short brown hair and a red blouse found out Tuesday that she lived her entire life thinking that all non-citizens were illegal aliens. She also firmly believes that non-citizens should not be as equally protected in the court system as citizens—a belief that goes against U.S. Constitution.

She concluded by saying, “Ninety percent of immigrants today are not looking for a better way of life. They’re looking for a way to undermine the Constitution.” She was dismissed soon after.

One Black woman wearing a red floral print shirt was the only juror excused because she was personally “too close” to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. She has two relatives who are rabbis and has attended fundraising events where she donated money for Israeli bonds. She added that she favored her family, which she later explained were all Israelis. Despite her personal connection and opinions, she persisted that she could still be fair. But the judge excused her anyway. Sigh.

One White man with a long ponytail and a blue shirt said he learned to trust the government more than he used to after beginning his job at Raytheon.

“I think they’re doing what they think is right to protect the public,” he said, persisting that he would put this opinion aside if he became a juror.

He did say one thing that caused some jaws to slightly drop: He thought the HLF case is “just a blowback from 9/11.”

The jury will be selected Thursday morning.

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