Jury selection starts Monday in Detroit porch-shooting trial

Friday, July 18, 2014

Good morning:

The Theodore Wafer trial is scheduled to begin Monday morning with jury selection. Unfortunately for both sides, the judge is going to conduct voir dire. The lawyers will be limited to recommending questions for the judge to ask. This is consistent with the practice in federal courts.

Although I tried lots of federal criminal cases before judges I respected, I was never satisfied with the way the way they conducted voir dire.

Can you think of a reason why you can’t be fair to both sides, is a useless question because with rare exceptions everybody believes they can be fair, regardless of their biases or prejudices. In fact, most people are not aware of their biases and prejudices.

In Washington State courts where I also tried many criminal cases, the lawyers are permitted to conduct voir dire. I would start with a general question, such as, “Do you believe you have any biases or prejudices?” Regardless of the response, I would ask them, “Why?”

My purpose in asking that question was to start a discussion that inevitably led to an increased awareness of the role played by biases and prejudices on perception.

For example, a detective’s wife denied having any biases or prejudices until I asked her if she could imagine a situation where she would not believe a police officer’s testimony that conflicted with a civilian witness’s testimony.

She shook her head and said, “No.”

Have you and your husband ever had a disagreement about an event that both of you witnessed, where your memory differed from his and you were sure you were right and he was wrong?

This question elicited laughter followed by an embarrassed and knowing smile.

“I see what you mean,” she said.

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17 Responses to Jury selection starts Monday in Detroit porch-shooting trial

  1. Malisha says:

    Call me cynical, but to me, the fact that they don’t want to live-stream this trial relates to the fact that there may be brewing a Fogen-trial-like agreement among the attorneys on all sides (prosecution, defense, and judiciary) to let this guy go. If that is the case there may also be the fear of real riots. Remember, Detroit is the locus of the “real thing” riots from the late 60s and in particular, right now, the city is bankrupt and the people are without water.

  2. J4TMinATL says:

    I was really hoping this trial would be streamed.

  3. I went to the Wayne County Circuit Court website and checked to see if the trial is going to be televised or livestreamed.

    Didn’t find anything, except the trial is scheduled to start at 9 am EDT on Monday morning.

    We may have to rely on tweets.

    Gotta love transparency.

    • bettykath says:

      Even so, tweets are faster than waiting for tomorrow’s newspaper and it might not be in your local version. 🙂

    • crustyolemothman says:

      Professor, After many years of using “crazy1946” on WP I decided to change my name to “crustyolemothman” after the mythical mothman… I’m sure this message will go into moderation, so when you read this you will know who it is? Have a great evening… Crazy

  4. Michelleo says:

    Please help Coverage of Wafer/McBride Murder Trial


    (I do not know this reporter, so I am neither recommending nor not recommending that anyone contribute money)

    • michelleo says:

      Share this
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      Thandisizwe Chimurenga to Cover the Detroit Trial of Renisha McBride’s Killer Beginning July 21

      Tue, 07/15/2014 – 12:38 — The Editors

      by the Editors

      Where does real journalism come from? It comes from real journalists, people who wake up every day to follow a story wherever it leads, interviewing participants and experts, poring through letters, transcripts and documents. Not so very long ago, journalism was paid for with corporate advertising dollars, and reporters were paid a living wage and backed by powerful institutions. Not any more. The current neoliberal order insists that every human interaction and service must produce a profit for the 1%, or cease to exist. That’s where journalism went. The 1% see no profit in an informed public.

      Black Agenda Report will be carrying reports several times weekly from the trial of Renisha McBride, thanks to a real journalist, Thandisizwe Chimurenga, the author of No Doubt: The Murders of Oscar Grant. Real journalism costs money. Follow this link to donate to the coverage… you’ll be covering the costs of transportation, transcripts and related expenses. If Thandi worked for the Los Angeles Times, they’d cover all this. But they don’t. We have to. All of us. So follow the link, please, and show some love for real journalism.

      The Editors’s blog
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  5. bettykath says:

    OT Man breaks up a fight, gets hassled by police, commits the egregious crime of objecting, gets killed


    • bettykath says:

      Why are so many Black kids without a dad in the house? Some of the dads are just irresponsible jerks, but some are subjected to police injustice that sometimes includes being killed. The “lucky” ones “just” go to jail.

      • Joseph Norton says:

        There are a lot of White kids without a dad in the house too ,but no one is talking about it,everyone is fixated with Blacks,but kids without dad touch every race,economic background and social status.

    • Those cops murdered him and deserve to go to prison.

      I don’t know this country anymore.

  6. Malisha says:

    “Do you have any biases or prejudices or reasons why you could not be fair in hearing a criminal case?


    “Explain please.”

    If there’s some fucking punk on trial who’s up to no good, and who might be on drugs or somepin, and who’s a real suspicious guy, I’m gonna be perfectly fair when I consider what happened when he attacked a fine upstanding citizen who donated his time to the Neighborhood Watch. I’m a fair-minded Merikenn.

    “Can you give another example?”

    Sure. If some hard-working respectable Merkin home-owner is called upon to defend god, country and his home from dangerous invasion by a drunken drug-crazed slut in the middle of the night, I’ll be fair when I judge him to be completely innocent; we have the god-given right to protect our country from violence.

    “OK, take your seat in the jury box.”

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