Jurors to be seated in Miles trial
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Jury selection is expected to be completed this morning in the Jordan Miles civil case, with opening arguments and testimony likely in the afternoon.
Mr. Miles, 20, sat in court for most of the four-hour process on Monday. So did Pittsburgh police officers Michael Saldutte, David Sisak and Richard Ewing, whom he has accused of beating him.
Attorneys and court staff interviewed 20 potential jurors from a pool of 65 people from throughout southwestern Pennsylvania. One by one, in U.S. District Judge Gary L. Lancaster's chambers, they were asked about their notions of the region's highest profile police abuse allegation in years, their attitudes about race and law enforcement, and their sense of the appropriateness of damage verdicts against police.
Attorneys for both sides said that it was likely that four to six of the 20 would be removed from consideration because their answers to the questions suggested they might be biased. Once replacements for those people are found, each side will be allowed to strike six, leaving eight jurors, including two alternates.
The only public part of the process involved asking the pool members whether they knew the involved parties or witnesses, or worked for the city. One white woman said she knew Mr. Sisak and is married to a city detective. A white man knew Mr. Saldutte. A black man said he may know one of the witnesses.
Judge Lancaster decided last week to ask more sensitive questions behind closed doors, in part because of the media coverage of the case.
Three of the 65 potential jurors were black men, as were two of the 20 people questioned in detail. There were no black women in the pool. Mr. Miles is black, and the three officers are white.
J. Kerrington Lewis, one of the attorneys for Mr. Miles, said he was not concerned about the racial makeup of the pool.
"We feel that the jurors are going to be fair," Mr. Lewis said. "They'll do the just thing."
The members of the jury pool were ordered not to text, tweet, blog or otherwise communicate from the courtroom, or from home about the case.
Mr. Miles has said that the three plainclothes officers jumped out of an unmarked car, chased him down and beat him about the head, tearing hair out and leaving him swollen and with cognitive losses.
The officers have said that they clearly identified themselves and ordered Mr. Miles to stop, but he ran, and they mistook a Mountain Dew bottle in his coat for the bulge of a gun.
They then arrested him, but he vigorously resisted, hitting and kicking them, they have said.
First Published July 17, 2012 12:00 am