Day 1: Jurors Questioned About War in Iraq


(Photo: Baylor.edu)

An unusually large number of prospective jurors have been summoned for the trial of anti-war protesters charged with trespassing during a sit-in at Congressman Steve Chabot’s office. Spectators were barred from the courtroom today because there was barely enough room for the 40 prospective jurors to sit.

Eight jurors will hear the case. The large pool of prospective jurors is required because there are multiple defendants, but also because so many people have strong opinions about the war. The goal is to find eight people who will judge us impartially.

Jury selection continues Tuesday at 1 p.m. Attorneys told Hamilton County Municipal Judge David Stockdale that testimony might begin about 3 p.m. The trial is expected to last three days.

The number of defendants today dropped to four. Before the start of jury selection, the Rev. John Rich pleaded no contest — as he had planned from the start — and was found guilty by the judge. Before being sentenced, Rich told Stockdale why he participated in the sit-in.

“The loss of life in Iraq is terrible,” he said.

Rich cited a study that said the U.S. military is directly responsible for up to 30 percent of the 600,000 civilian deaths that have occurred in Iraq since the U.S. invasion.

Stockdale sentenced Rich to one day in jail, with credit for the day he served following his arrest; 20 hours of community service; and a fine and court costs totaling $85.

Jury selection featured questions about jurors’ opinions on the war, whether they believed it possible to support the troops without supporting the war and whether they had ever participated in rallies for or against the war.

One of the most interesting lines of questioning was by defense attorney Jay Clark, who asked jurors if they were familiar with the 19th century Fugitive Slave Act. Clark wanted to know whether jurors thought it sometimes necessary to render a verdict based on morality, rather than on law. In other words, when the law is wrong — as in the case of a law requiring the return of escaped slaves to their owners — should a jury find violators guilty or acquit them?

For all the passion aroused by the question of the war in Iraq, the atmosphere is remarkably friendly inside the courtroom. City Prosecutor Jay Littner told the jury, “These are good people, people acting on their consciences.” But the question jurors will face, Littner said, is whether or not we broke the law.

— Gregory Flannery

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5 Comments on “Day 1: Jurors Questioned About War in Iraq”

  1. Rex Says:

    I move we save the taxpayers a lot of money that could be best used to put real criminals in jail. Let’s just buy these hate-America types a bus ticket to Ottowa and call it day.

  2. Gregory Flannery Says:

    Rex, you’d be wasting your money on the bus tickets. Not one of the defendants hates America.

  3. Marilyn Says:

    It could well be argued that the people who love America most are folks who are appalled at what our administration has unleashed.

    Because of our reckless, ignorant actions in Iraq, the entire region, if not the world, is now in greater peril than ever.

    I weep for our sorry leadership.

  4. Kevin Osborne Says:

    Rex,

    You’d be taken more seriously if you spelled “Ottawa” correctly.

    Also, were Washington, Jefferson, et. al, also “hate America” types when they criticized its governance by the British?

  5. Shannon Says:

    GO civil greg, john, ellen, sr. mary, and barb!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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