As prosecutors and attorneys for former Enron executives Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling begin picking a jury today, a former federal prosecutor says the term “jury selection” is a misnomer, reports the Houston Chronicle. “It’s really jury elimination,” said Southern Methodist University law professor Linda Eads. U.S. District Judge Sim Lake will quiz the 100 citizens. Without giving a reason, the defense can strike 12 pool members and the government can eliminate six, according to rules set by Lake. Both sides have an unlimited number of challenges for cause, with which they can argue there is a compelling reason for Lake to remove a member.
Eads said each side likely has a profile of whom they want in the box, and whom they don’t. “If I were the government, I would really want older people on the jury who were faced with the fear of losing their retirement savings, because I think that’s a big issue,” she said, recalling the horror stories of Enron workers and retirees left with nothing of their nest eggs. Younger jurors, she said, might be a defense asset. “They might see Lay and Skilling as go-getters who have the government on their backs,” Eads said. “Plus, in Texas you’ve got the psychology that the government should leave us alone.” The problem, said Rusty Hardin, a defense attorney and former prosecutor, is that anti-Enron biases run strong in the community despite the four-year lag since the company’s collapse.