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Gaming Guru

Melissa Arseniuk

O.J. Simpson jury contains mostly women, no African-Americans

12 September 2008

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- O.J. Simpson's future and freedom is in the hands of a predominantly white, predominantly female 12-member jury.

Simpson and his co-accused, Clarence "C.J." Stewart, could be sentenced to life behind bars if convicted. The two former golfing buddies face 12 robbery, kidnapping and weapons-related charges following the alleged Sept. 13, 2007, raid of two memorabilia dealers' Palace Station hotel room.

One of the charges, first-degree kidnapping with use of a deadly weapon, carries a possible life sentence with no chance of parole for five years.

Simpson maintains he and Stewart, along with four others, were simply retrieving items of that belonged to him when the incident occurred last fall.

The other men originally charged in the case have entered plea bargains with the defense, agreeing to testify against the accused in exchange for lesser charges and reduced sentencing.

The nine-woman, three-man jury will hear from them, along with dozens of other witnesses, in the coming weeks.

The defense took exception to two of District Attorney David Roger's peremptory challenges that saw two black women dismissed from the potential jury pool.

"Juror 60209 is one of ... the only possible African Americans ... who could even have a shot of being on the (jury)," Simpson's attorney, Yale Galanter, said while opposing one of the challenges.

The defense said the selection process had been racist

Lawyers for the prosecution, however, said their reasons for having the women ejected were "race-neutral" and had nothing to do with the fact that they were black. Instead, they focused on the fact that both women had strong religious beliefs that they said would interfere with deliberations.

While both Simpson and Stewart's lawyers cried foul and, Judge Jackie Glass upheld the dismissals.

Two blacks, one man and one woman, are in the pool of six alternate jurors. That group is split 50/50 in terms of gender, with three men and three women.

Before Glass adjourned for the day, she reminded jurors of the parameters that they will have to live by for the duration of their time on the jury: Don't read the paper, don't listen to the radio, and be careful when you watch TV.

Jurors must avoid reading, hearing and discussing the trial until a verdict is delivered.

"Rest up, take your vitamins, sleep," Glass suggested, acknowledging that the jurors will have a long five or so weeks ahead of them.

The court will be "dark" Friday, as no formal proceedings are scheduled. Proceedings will resume Monday as the trial will begin with opening statements.