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What is known about the jury in the kidnapping trial?

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – A nursing director, a plastics factory manager and an IT worker are among 12 jurors and four deputies testifying in the trial of four men accused of plotting the 2020 kidnapping of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer .

As a safety precaution, US District Judge Robert Jonker in Grand Rapids only allowed attorneys to see the jurors’ names and their written questionnaires. But the jurors – who are referred to in court by assigned numbers – discussed their backgrounds during the public portion of jury selection.

Here’s a look at the judges and what they said:

WHAT JOBS DO THE JUDGES HAVE FROM?

Not everyone named their job. Among those who did was juror 163, who is a casino compliance officer. Judge #227 is a project manager at a printing company. Jury 69 said she was a retiree who ran a sewing business.

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Nursing Manager is juror #211, IT staff is #115, and plastics operations manager is #201.

HAD THE JURS HEARD ABOUT THE CASE?

Everyone said they heard at least something. Knowing about the case wasn’t an automatic disqualification, but those who said they didn’t follow the news obsessively were more likely to make the jury.

When asked if he monitors the news, the IT worker replied, “I ignore it.” Jury No. 14 told the judge she never follows the news. And judge #169 described herself as a “news junkie,” but added that she usually just reads headlines.

A prospective juror said he had been following the case closely, adding, “I think they’re guilty.” He was dismissed. Likewise, someone who said he had heard colleagues “feeling the accused” with them.

WHAT ABOUT YOUR POLICY?

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Jurors who said they did not have strong political opinions or feelings toward Whitmer were more likely to be seized.

Jury 14 told the judge she “doesn’t get into politics,” while juror 161 said she was “politically centered.” The retiree said her husband is more opinionated about politics than she is, but she could “mute” him for the duration of the trial.

Several members of the pool were fired after saying they didn’t like Whitmer. So did a woman who described herself as a fan of the governor. A man who said he did not trust the government was also released.

The pool of over 50 juror candidates came from a 22-county region of western Michigan that is largely rural, Republican, and conservative.

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The judge did not ask the candidates about former President Donald Trump. The defendants are accused of hatching their conspiracy in 2020 when Whitmer traded taunts with Trump about pandemic restrictions. She later said Trump was involved in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

WHAT ABOUT WEAPONS?

Jonker asked would-be jurors if they owned guns, apparently to find out if anyone had strong gun biases. Some trial evidence includes photos of the defendants with legally owned guns.

When he asked around 20 prospective jurors how many guns they owned, almost all of them raised their hands.

Juror 69, the retiree, later said there were no guns in her home but she had no problem with them. The manager of the plastics plant was among those who said they owned several weapons, including an assault rifle.

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WHAT ABOUT JURY DEMOGRAPHICS?

Ten judges are women. Six are men. The court declined to release information about their races. The judicial district is predominantly white.

CAN ANYTHING BE LET OUT IN JUDGING CONDUCT?

The jury seemed busy at times, taking extensive notes. However, when testimony turned to details that were difficult to ascertain, some put down their notebooks and sank into their chairs.

Jonker apparently realized Monday’s jury was struggling to stay engaged and gave them a pep talk.

“It can get… drudgery,” he said of the level of detail in the process. He explained that prosecutors and defense attorneys were laying “stones and mortar” and that it would become clear later where the details fit into their competing narratives.

The jury sits across from the accused. The judge ordered flags to be hung at the defense tables to hide the defendants’ shackles after their lawyers said the sight of the shackles could lead the jury to conclude the men are dangerous and could affect the verdict.

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WHAT ELSE DID THE JUDGE TELL THE JUDGES?

During jury selection, he said this was not a “normal case” and would require additional effort and time to ensure the trial was “fairly conducted.”

One person in the pool, a professional glassblower, shook his head when the judge said the trial could take six weeks. He was dismissed. So did a truck driver who complained he was losing $2,000 just for reporting for jury duty.

HAS ANYONE BEEN REJECTED AFTER THE PROCESS HAS STARTED?

Jury 143, the only juror to express excitement at being included on the jury, was released two weeks after testifying. He was suffering from a gastrointestinal virus, the judge said. Earlier, Juror No. 162 was dismissed after calling in sick. Four deputies remain.

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For AP’s full coverage of the Whitmer kidnapping trial, go to: https://apnews.com/hub/whitmer-kidnap-plot-trial

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Associated Press reporters John Flesher of Traverse City, Michigan and Ed White of Detroit contributed to this story.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/news/national/2022/03/26/explainer-whats-known-about-jurors-at-kidnap-plot-trial/ What is known about the jury in the kidnapping trial?

Jaclyn Diaz

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