Jury Selection: Day 2 (Sept. 16, 2008)

Defense and government attorneys individually questioned 24 more jurors on Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2008 during the Holy Land Foundation retrial’s second day of voir dire.

The first couple of people questioned Tuesday seemed like they would be fair jurors. They said they had no prior knowledge of the case and no biases against Arabs and Muslims. The also said they had no problem with returning a not guilty verdict if the government did not prove their case.

But the fourth person to be questioned was a tall, White spiky haired fellow who said he had instant doubts about the defendants’ innocence.

“I’m going to believe what the government tells me,” he said with a southern accent. “I have faith in them.” U.S. District Judge Jorge Solis excused the man from the jury pool.

A young White man sporting a navy blue polo and a blonde goatee said he occasionally deals with Muslims at his job as a Target employee. But the father of four said he was “skeptical” about serving on a terrorism trial.

“They know how I look like, my name, where I live. It makes me uncomfortable,” he said.

One White woman whose gray hair matched her jacket gave an interesting excuse as to why she cannot serve on the jury: She has plans to decorate for Christmas for Johnson County’s annual Candlewalk event.

“Are ya’ll lying? I don’t have six weeks,” she said about the estimated length of the trial. She also added that a terrorism case makes her feel uncomfortable. “I would hate to put my family at risk. I think the government takes good care of us,” she said.

A Black petite woman wearing a navy blue suit and a head of large curls said she had no opinion about the case and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She did, however, say she had a problem with a defendant’s choice to not testify during his or her trial.

“If you’re accused of something, you’d want to give an opinion, give an answer,” she said. “The way I was brought up, we always came to our own defense.” She was excused.

One middle-aged White woman wearing a highlighter yellow blouse believed the defendants were on trial for a reason.

“There’s gotta be evidence or they wouldn’t have brought this case,” she said, adding that she expects the defendants to prove themselves innocent (rather than the other way around.)

A young, brave White man in his early thirties brought an insightful perspective to the Dallas courtroom. The thin man with dark wavy hair and bright blue eyes said he would hate to see people suffer consequences for sending money to charity organizations. He also said he didn’t like warrant-less wiretaps, and he compared the Palestinian-Israeli conflict with the British occupation of Ireland. The man remained in the jury pool.

One tall White guy wearing a mint green polo told attorneys he would have difficulty being an impartial juror because of his bias against Arabs and Muslims.

“They’re the ones that bombed our country on 9/11,” he stated in his questionnaire. He concluded by saying he could put his feelings aside if he’s picked as a juror on this case, Judge Solis kept him in the jury pool.

The final juror to be questioned Tuesday — a White brunette woman wearing a coral-colored blouse — said she was “a little confused” about why the United States government is trying this case. She then asked, “It should be tried in Israel, shouldn’t it?”

This was perhaps the most eloquent and honest question asked by all jurors.

Jury selection will end Wednesday or Thursday. Opening arguments will start Monday, Sept. 22, 2008.

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