Today, filmmaker Deia Schlosberg’s footage from the action was admitted into evidence. The prosecution’s choice of video was strange. They ran a sustained shot with nary a sound for twenty minutes. Nothing but scene of road, barren rock, and dirt field. Near the end Michael and Sam walk by. The jury tries to keep necks craned dutifully towards the screen. Staring uncomfortably, one juror scratched his head, another looks perplexed at the prosecution, another drops their head into a ready nap position.
The attorneys are adversarial. The jury was excused several times for legal rigamarole. After lunch, things got hot when the arresting officer gave testimony. The prosecution tried to paint alarm by asking the witness about his experience with a pipeline explosion he responded to in Minnesota, 2007. Relevance?
Today was a satisfying day: we have a jury!
Two fifths of the people in the jury pool were dismissed for cause, unwilling to comply with the legal requirement to presume innocence. One potential juror said there had to be consequences for laws broken under any circumstances. “If we didn’t have laws we’d have chaos. There’s always consequences for choices.”
“Don’t you think that this law, the presumption of innocence, is a good alternative to chaos?”
Michael’s attorney, Hoffman returned. “I want to know that you are not just going to find these fellows guilty because the police arrested them. I want you to hear all the evidence and make a fair decision.”Read more
Michael Foster this morning with his attorneys Michael Hoffman and Alice Cherry.
Good morning all! Prospective jurors are about to enter the courtroom for Day 2 of Michael Foster and Sam Jessup's climate trial, in Pembina County, North Dakota. It was a long and slow day yesterday of jury selection yesterday. The morning was amicable and thoughtful. The afternoon was more contentious, with multiple jurors unable to say that they could give Michael and Sam a presumption of innocent.
This morning we'll continue this snail like process. We have some hope that we'll have empaneled a jury by lunch time, though nothing is guaranteed.
Ken Ward writes, "Michael Foster's attorney, Mike Hoffman continues to lead a fascinating conversation with jurors about the nature of the presumption of innocence, and whether that presumption is eroded when individual prospective jurors assume that a defendant is likely guilty merely because they have been charged by law enforcement. Mike Hoffman quotes a juror excused yesterday who said he believed that the trial is a waste of time, and why not just cart Michael off to jail?"
Hey all, just a little update about how the jury selection process works here in Pembina County Court. The attorneys have all certified that 12 potential jurors cannot be removed for cause; that they don't have any obvious biases that would keep them from impartially deciding the case. Those folks have been dismissed until tomorrow. The Clerk is now calling another round of 12 potential jurors, and then the lawyers will go through the same process with these until there is a large enough pool cleared of cause. Then tomorrow the defense and the prosecution will get to remove a number without cause before we finally have a seated jury.