The following is from the January 30, 2006 edition of The Houston Chronicle.
By MARK BABINECK
The Houston Chronicle
Prosecutors and attorneys for former Enron Chief Executives Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling began picking a jury this morning at the U.S. courthouse, but one former federal prosecutor says the term "jury selection" is a misnomer.
"It's really jury elimination," said Southern Methodist University law professor and one-time Justice Department lawyer Linda Eads.
U.S. District Judge Sim Lake will quiz the 100 citizens set to appear in an 11th-floor courtroom today, then cull them with help from lawyers from both sides until 12 panelists emerge.
Without giving a reason, the defense can strike 12 pool members and the government can eliminate six, according to rules set by Lake. Each side can shed two more when it's time to choose four alternates.
The prosecution and defense have an unlimited number of challenges for cause, with which they can argue there is a compelling reason for Lake to remove a member.
The jury is in there somewhere, unless Lake decides he needs to bring in the approximately 50 others who survived the first round of cuts after filling out questionnaires probing their backgrounds and opinions of the Enron cast of characters.
Eads said each side likely has a profile of whom they want in the box.
And whom they don't.
"If I were the government, I would really want older people on the jury who were faced with the fear of losing their retirement savings, because I think that's a big issue," Eads said, recalling the horror stories of Enron workers and retirees left with nothing of their nest eggs.
Younger jurors, she said, might be a defense asset.
"They might see Lay and Skilling as go-getters who have the government on their backs," Eads said. "Plus, in Texas you've got the psychology that the government should leave us alone."