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UPDATED: February 3rd, 7:15 pm
Sherri Rae Rasmussen, victim
Voir Dire: (English pronunciation: /ˈvwɑr ˌdiər/)
According to wikipedia, voir dire is a legal phrase that comes from the Anglo-Norman language. In origin it refers to an oath to tell the truth (Latin verum dicere), i.e., to say what is true, what is objectively accurate or subjectively honest, or both. In the United States, it now generally refers to the process by which prospective jurors are questioned about their backgrounds and potential biases before being chosen to sit on a jury. It also refers to the process by which expert witnesses are questioned about their backgrounds and qualifications before being allowed to present their opinion testimony in court.
I've been told by many sources over the last four years of covering high-profile cases that voir dire is the most important part of a trial. It's where a trial can be won, lost (depending on your perspective) or hung if you seat just one wrong juror. (Think Phil Spector's first trial. It's possible the defense took that hung jury as a win. The news media filmed images of Spector's young, trial bride wife waving at the media helicopters and dancing in the driveway of the Pyrenees Castle after they left the courthouse.) Some high profile trials utilize jury consultants and I don't know if either side will be using one in this trial.
I have not had the opportunity to attend many voir dire sessions and I do not know if I will get a seat for the Lazarus voir dire. (I do have a reserved seat for the rest of the trial.) The Spector retrial voir dire took five days and I did get to attend a portion of that. I watched the some of the Casey Anthony voir dire online. As soon as I get down to the courthose and know my status I'll post an update. I'm taking the train today since Mr. Sprocket has not finished working on my car.
We are on break. I got a seat at voir dire. Mark Overland was first up and has used up his allotted hour of questioning. Ten of the 84 that came in were excused before voir dire started. After the break, the prosecution will get their hour at the first forty jurors. More at the lunch break.
Update 12:37 pm:
I'm finally in the cafeteria. After the initial hour for each side of voir dire, there were two jurors excused for cause. (More on that process tonight when I get home.) Then the parties moved onto the presumptive challenges. Each side gets 20 challenges. As my stomach was grumbling, Judge Perry went 30 minutes into the normal lunch hour, trying to seat a jury before lunch. Counsel went through the first 50 jurors without seating 12 jurors. We return at 1:45 pm to begin vior dire with the next group.
Update 7:16 pm:
I'm sorry. This will be a short update for now. I got home around 6:00 pm (exhausted) since I had to take the train and bus all the way home. Mr. Sprocket was still working on the car and couldn't come pick me up. The 8 women, 4 men jury was seated around 3:30 pm. The six alternates, 2 women and 4 men were seated about ten minutes later. I'm sure in a few days the mainstream media will have more information on the jurors once their jury questionnaires have been released. If I can get a copy from my friends in the media, I will see if I can find a way to post them.
John Ruetten attended voir dire in the company of Sherri Rae Rasmussen's family. This is the first time that I have seen him at court since I started covering the trial. I also noticed that Scott Young, Lazarus' husband was carrying a soft back copy of the Holy Bible along with a spiral notebook. There were several people there from Lazarus' family as well as Sherri's family. A sister of Sherri's introduced herself to me and I'm sorry to say that I was so flustered I forgot her name. Please give me some time to write up my notes on voir dire tonight and over the weekend.