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Lawyer: Goal is to try and get best possible jurors that will do what you want

Thursday, June 06, 2013, 12:50pm
(NECN: Alysha Palumbo - Boston) - Attorneys for reputed South Boston mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger and the government prosecutors who hope to finally convict him of 19 murders spanning three decades, are hard at work pouring over hundreds of lengthy juror questionnaires to try to eventually empanel a jury of 18 men and women.

Federal court trial lawyer and Mass School of Law Associate Dean Michael Coyne said, “The goal is to try and get the best possible jurors that will do what you want.  Everyone says we want a fair and impartial jury, that’s not what we want at all.”

Coyne says he expects the attorneys are ranking the prospective jurors on a simple scale in order of whom they believe would be most likely to side with their case.

He said, “The tens are the ones I want and must have, the ones are the people I don’t want to have, and then there’s a lot obviously in between that you can ultimately live with - but the more tens I get, the more ones I keep off, the greater the chance I have at succeeding.”

Coyne says jurors who think they’ll be excused from service just because they’ve read a book about Bulger or have watched coverage of this case may be surprised.

“You’re not entitled to a jury that hasn’t heard about this case," said Coyne, "frankly you wouldn’t want a juror that hasn’t heard about this case because either they are lying or they live under a rock.”

He says what U.S. District Court Judge Denise Casper is ultimately looking for is 12 jurors and six alternates who can put aside what they know about this case and focus on the evidence being presented in the courtroom.

Coyne says that’s why extending the time to go over juror questionnaires was so critical in selecting this jury.

He said, “Those days will be as important to this trial as any because those people will ultimately sit and determine Whitey’s fate.”

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