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John Daley Reporting A jury is seated for Utah's most anticipated trial in years. Tom Welch and Dave Johnson have pleaded innocent to 15 felony charges that they were involved in bribes to win the 2002 Olympic Games. It'll be up to the 12 jurors selected today to decide their fate.
Twelve jurors were seated today, along with two alternates. Nine men and five women were chosen from a jury pool of 83 ordinary citizens. The case promises to be complex, fascinating and potentially dramatic, and it starts with opening arguments tomorrow.
On his way into court the day before the fight of his life is to start former Olympic leader Tom Welch likes the wintry feel emerging outside.
Tom Welch, Former SLOC President: “See the snow. It’s a good omen. It’s a good omen.”
Welch--and co-defendant Dave Johnson hope the jury selected today will be sympathetic despite tales of criminal wrongdoing that'll be told by federal prosecutors. After three days lawyers for the two sides made their final selection for the 12 jurors and two alternates who will sit in Judge David Sam's courtroom digesting details from dozens of witnesses and countless documents.
Most jurors eliminated from the pool said they had heard of the Welch/Johnson case and, unlike many trials, would have liked to have served on it.
Mary Mathews, Unselected Juror: “I think it would have been great to have been a juror. But I'm kind of relieved not to be. Big responsibility."
Doug, Unselected Juror: "Well, I live in Utah. Everybody's heard stuff about the case. Question: do you think it would have been difficult? Yeah I think it would have been difficult."
Cristy Thatcher, Unselected Juror: "I think it's going to be very hard because they did get the Olympics in Utah. So I think it will be hard for people to decide either way if they did right, if they did wrong."
That kind of thinking amounts to a home-court advantage for Welch and Johnson says Lynn Packer--a former reporter--who hopes to write a book on the case and is also a jury consultant for law firms. With opening statements tomorrow, he says the pressure is on the prosecutors to put on a compelling presentation.
Lynn Packer, Author/Trial Consultant: "If it comes out at all muddled and unclear and really does not give the jury a good road map, they could really get lost and find in favor of the defendants."
Make no mistake about it, given the high stakes and well-known witnesses--from Governor Mike Leavitt to high-ranked Olympic leaders--this trial could be a real barn burner with some genuine Perry Mason moments.