Jury Selection Nears Completion in Jeffs Trial

Jury Selection Nears Completion in Jeffs Trial

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John Hollenhorst Reporting As of this morning, it was unclear if a jury would be selected in time for the trial of polygamist leader Warren Jeffs, which is scheduled to begin tomorrow.

In one development today, the judge substantially loosened his restrictions on what journalists can report about the closed-door questioning of prospective jurors.

By this second day of jury selection, the judge had hoped to qualify 28 prospective jurors. Only nine had passed by this morning. Tonight, court officials announced they have 20.

Jeffs is accused of being an accomplice to rape, by arranging the marriage of a 14-year-old girl.

Jeffs himself has been sitting in on the closed-door questioning. When reporters were allowed in to observe this afternoon, Jeffs was flanked by three defense lawyers, the judge and three prosecutors.

Jeffs doesn't participate, but he seems somewhat interested and alert. He even laughed when a prospective juror joked about taking a pie to him in the jail with a file baked inside.

The judge dismissed that juror, not for her sense of humor, but because her answers suggested a bias against defense lawyers.

Another man was allowed to remain in the jury pool, even though he expressed strong distaste for arranged marriages. He evidently convinced the judge he could be fair and stick to the facts of the case.

Each interview takes about a half hour, and it appears they still have to work their way through many more prospective jurors.

So it's an open question whether the trial will start tomorrow.

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