Elrick: Diversity shouldn't be an issue with Kilpatrick jury - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

M.L. Elrick: Diversity shouldn't be an issue with Kilpatrick jury

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DETROIT (MyFox Detroit) -

I doubt they'll admit it, but both sides had to heave a big sigh after the fifth day of jury selection ended Wednesday.

Not because we're nearly done. In fact, we're probably only half way through an arduous process that both sides consider critical to winning the case.

No, the real relief comes from the number of people from minority groups who are already part of the potential jury pool. The question of whether Kwame Kilpatrick and his co-defendants could get a fair trial hinged largely on whether the former mayor, his father Bernard, long-time pal and contractor Bobby Ferguson and former Water Department honcho Victor Mercado would be judged by a diverse jury. Both Kilpatricks and Ferguson are black.

On Wednesday, three black women, a black man and a Hispanic man all made it though the first round of jury selection. After five days, this brings the total number of minorities in the potential jury pool to about a dozen of the 40 or so people who move on to the next, and final, round.

Both sides may now feel comfortable removing black jurors without appearing to create an all-white jury. Prosecutors are almost certain to remove a black Detroiter who said Wednesday she could not convict the former mayor -- even if the prosecutors made their case beyond a reasonable doubt. She later backtracked when defense attorneys questioned her in an apparent bid to keep her in the jury pool.

Defense attorneys, too, have expressed concerns about at least one potential juror who is a minority. But they would be loathe to remove a minority juror if that person was one of the only people of color left to serve on the jury. Now, that's probably not a problem.

Another two dozen potential jurors will be added in the next few days to the pool of 66 the judge wants to assemble before lawyers can start removing them without giving a reason (these are known as peremptory challenges and are standard parts of any trial) to get the jury down to 12 and 6 alternates.

At the rate we're going, there will be several more minorities added to the potential jury pool. And that means the lawyers will not only get the diversity both sides want, they'll get a chance for a jury they like as well as a jury that reflects our diverse community.

Of course, this means the losing side will need to find something else to complain about after all is said and done.

But I'm sure they'll manage somehow.

Follow M.L. Elrick's coverage of the Kilpatrick & Co. trial every day on Fox 2 and at www.myfoxdetroit.com. Contact him at ml.elrick@foxtv.com or via Twitter or Facebook.

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