400 jurors may get summoned for O.J. Simpson trial in Vegas
LAS VEGAS – Lengthy questionnaires will be used to screen a jury pool of as many as 400 people in O.J. Simpson’s armed-robbery and kidnapping trial, court officials and lawyers said Thursday.
Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass told prosecutors and lawyers for the former football star and two co-defendants that she plans to summon prospective jurors in August and have them fill out forms at least two weeks before the trial starts Sept. 8.
“I have no idea how long it’s going to take to pick a jury in this case,” the judge said.
Simpson and co-defendants Charles Ehrlich and Clarence “C.J.” Stewart did not attend the hearing. Each has pleaded not guilty to all charges, including kidnapping, armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon on allegations they robbed two sports-collectibles dealers at gunpoint last Sept. 13 at a Las Vegas hotel-casino.
Clark County District Attorney David Roger asked the judge to begin summoning people early, “to place them on notice before all the media starts that they’re potential jurors.”
Court spokesman Michael Sommermeyer later put the prospective jury pool at about 400.
The jury questionnaires with at least 115 questions haven’t been made public. Prosecutors and defense lawyers said they disagree over at least three questions, and Glass scheduled arguments during a June 20 hearing on pretrial motions.
“The questionnaire is not about arguing the case,” Simpson defense lawyer Gabriel Grasso said outside court. “It’s basically about asking certain questions to weed out jurors who have preconceived ideas.”
Defense lawyers alleged that they haven’t received all available pretrial files and documents from prosecutors, and Glass instructed Roger and prosecutor Chris Owens to provide materials as soon as possible.
“They have all the documents that we have,” Owens said, adding that new materials were being turned over as they came in. Roger declined comment afterward.
“The reason we want these materials is so that we can prepare for trial in 100 days or so,” Ehrlich’s lawyer, John Moran, said later. “The judge has recognized that there’s discovery outstanding that we have not received.”
Moran said he also has filed documents asking Glass to reconsider her decision to try Simpson, Ehrlich and Stewart together.
Simpson has maintained that no guns were used during the hotel-room confrontation, and that he only wanted to retrieve personal items that he said were stolen from him.
A kidnapping conviction carries the possibility of life in prison with the possibility of parole. A robbery conviction would mean mandatory prison time.