Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Would You Want Oprah On Your Jury? 

Oprah Winfrey is a juror in a Cook County murder trial. Jury selection and opening arguments were yesterday, and deliberations are expected to begin tomorrow. Aside from being allowed to enter the courthouse through the private entrance reserved for judges and sheriff's officers, she is being given no special treatment, according to the court. It was noted that her fellow jurors cheered when she was selected, however.

I wouldn't be concerned about whether Oprah could be fair and impartial, but I would be concerned about her affect on the other jurors, and the attorneys and court personnel. When the jury was dismissed for the night on Monday, Judge James Linn gave not only the usual admonitions about discussing the case with friends and family, but also stated, "I think it would be inappropriate to talk about each other and who you are on a jury with," Linn said.

Will the jurors spend more time dwelling on their opportunity to spend three days up close and personal with such a celebrity heavy hitter rather than focusing on the facts of the case? Given the increased focus that is being put on this trial, will the attorneys and judge be influenced at all by concerns about how they will end up appearing? Is anyone thinking about possible follow up fame for themselves? Will any jurors be more swayed by Oprah's opinion than they would be if she weren't so well-known?

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 1:50 PM