Court officials in Santa Maria, Ca., plan to summon up to 4,000 prospective jurors for Michael Jackson’s child-molestation trial, says the Los Angeles Times. With jury selection set to begin Jan. 31, panelists will report in shifts of about 150 each. Under the direction of Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville, prospective jurors will be probed for attitudes on a spectrum of issues, including racial prejudice, divorce, and plastic surgery. Many will be excused because they can’t afford to stay off the job for the five months the trial may take. Others will ask to be exempted because of sexual abuse they or people close to them suffered as children.
Experts say panelists probably will be asked whether celebrities in trouble get the justice they deserve or the justice they can buy. “There’s an interesting aspect of this case that goes to the fact that Michael Jackson is a very eccentric person,” said Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, a trial consultant. “Do people believe that eccentricity suggests a criminal mind, or just that Jackson is a very creative, artistic guy and his eccentricity shouldn’t be held against him?” Judging from the results of two previous civil trials involving Jackson, juries from the conservative Santa Maria area may not be swayed by Jackson’s behavior.