More than 1,000 residents of economically diverse Eagle County, Colo., will be summoned to join the jury pool for the biggest legal confrontation in county history: the Kobe Bryant rape trial. The Washington Post says that about one in 25 adult residents are being called to decide the fate of the 25-year-old Los Angeles Lakers guard who faces one felony count of sexual assault. That is nearly five times the size of a normal jury pool, but Judge Terry Ruckriegle decided the huge mailing would be necessary to find enough locals who can be open-minded about a case that has been engulfed in media attention for a year.
Those receiving a summons will be ordered to appear at Eagle’s courthouse on Aug. 27 to begin filling out questionnaires. Hundreds will be excused from service almost immediately, because of health or family problems or because of some connection to the case. Eventually, the judge will arrive at a pool of 100 or so potential jurors, who will then be questioned by defense lawyers and prosecutors before the final 12 are selected. Karen Salaz, spokeswoman for the Colorado courts, said Ruckriegle hopes to have a jury seated by Labor Day. Lawyers following the high-profile case say that could be optimistic. Craig Silverman, a Denver defense lawyer and former prosecutor, said he had “seen cases with a lot less firepower than this at the defense table where it took three or four weeks to pick a jury. We know that Team Kobe is going to use the best jury-selection experts they can find, and that tends to slow things down.”