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William "Cold Cash" Jefferson's jury selection set to begin

WASHINGTON -- Outlining procedures for the corruption trial of former Democratic Rep. William Jefferson, U.S. District Court Judge T. S. Ellis III, said Thursday that he will summon 100 potential jurors to his Alexandria, Va., courtroom Tuesday and ask whether they know Jefferson, his lawyers or members of the prosecution team.

After determining any conflicts and deciding whether to eliminate potential jurors from the pool, Ellis said he'll instruct those remaining to fill out a questionnaire to help with selection of a "fair and impartial jury."

The completed questionnaires, Ellis said, will be given to the defense and prosecution teams on Tuesday afternoon. On Wednesday, aided by the questionnaire and jurors' response to questions from prosecutors, defense team and the judge, a jury of 12 plus four alternates will be selected, Ellis said.

Ellis did not indicate whether he thinks opening arguments can occur Wednesday, or will have to wait until Thursday.

Jefferson is accused of bribery, racketeering and violation of the Corrupt Foreign Practices Act for allegedly demanding, and, in some cases accepting, payments to family owned businesses in return for his help winning approval of projects in several Western African nations. He maintains his innocence.

The judge ordered the questions on the questionnaire to be sealed, and instructed both prosecutors and defense attorneys not to make them public.

Ellis said he used many, but not all, of the questions suggested by defense and prosecution lawyers.

One problem in selecting a jury likely will be the length of the trial, estimated at between four and six weeks.

In another ruling Thursday, Ellis granted some requests by the Jefferson's defense team to require the prosecution to play longer excerpts of taped conversations involving the former nine-term New Orleans congressman to provide proper context. But Ellis rejected most of the requests on grounds that they wouldn't be helpful to jurors understanding of the evidence.

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Added: Jun-4-2009 Occurred On: Jun-4-2009
By: marsatomic
News, Other
Tags: jury, selection, William, Cold Cash, Jefferson, NOLA, corruption, trial
Location: Washington, District of Columbia, United States (load item map)
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