(NECN: Justin Michaels) - If everything goes as planned the judge in the James “Whitey” Bulger trial wants to have the jury seated by the end of the week for opening statements to start next week. To reach that goal, a lot needs to happen between Tuesday and Friday.
The judge in this case, U.S. District Judge Denise J Casper, is allowing the prosecutors to conduct criminal background checks on all potential jurors. The prosecution says the background checks are to ensure that ineligible people don't serve as jurors, fearing that could threaten the integrity of the trial.
The 83-year-old James “Whitey” Bulger is charged with a long list of crimes, including those 19 killings, racketeering, all while authorities say he was an FBI informant.
Jury selection beginning Tuesday has a pool of 675 people. Tuesday and Wednesday they'll be filling out questionnaires to be used to screen those people for conflicts they may have, ideally dwindling down that jury pool by Thursday. The 675 people will eventually become 12 jurors with six alternates. The trial is expected to last three months and we know the jurors’ names won't be made public until after the verdict on Bulger is handed down.
The 13-page jury questionnaire that those 675 jurors will be filling out Tuesday has a total of 51 questions. The goal of the questionnaire is to make sure any potential juror is impartial and some of the questions are interesting.
Question number 38 reads: “Have you read any book or books regarding organized crime in Boston?” If there's a “yes” response, the people will need to list those books.
And then question 46 reads: “Do you believe that the sale of marijuana should be legal?” This has another “yes” or “no” answer, and if the answer is “yes” the juror will be asked to explain why.
As far as the timeline, again, the judge wants to get this questioning out-of-the-way in the next two days with the defense and prosecution questioning process to start Thursday. Ideally, the jury will be seated by Friday with opening statements by Monday.