The trial of Honolulu’s former police chief and his wife, a former deputy prosecutor, is set to begin with jury selection Monday. It’s one of the state’s most high-profile cases, so how does that affect jury selection?
University of Hawaii Law Professor Ken Lawson tells us that it doesn’t matter if people called to jury duty have watched the news and followed the investigations into the Kealohas. They could still be selected as jurors if they can give the defendants a fair trial.
Jury selection for the Kealohas and three Honolulu police officers is scheduled for Monday at the Blaisdell Center. One of the challenges for such a high profile case is getting a fair and impartial jury.
“It’s going to take a few days I would imagine because you still got 5 lawyers on one side and the prosecution, so each lawyer gets a chance to talk to each individual juror,” said Lawson.
Lawson tells us even if a person has heard about the Kealoha investigation or watched the news, he or she could still be a juror.
“I think a lot of times the public is confused based on if there is a lot of publicity you can’t get a fair trial and that’s not the test. The test really is in spite of what you heard, can you set that aside and still give the defendants a fair trial? Presume them innocent until all the evidence is in? If the juror says that yes I can do that under oath and then they can sit,” said Lawson.
The interview process will weed out those who cannot be objective. Even then, the attorneys still have the power to reject jurors without having to give a reason.
“You have 5 defendants that’s going to trial so there are going to be a number of peremptory challenges they can use which means they can kick off a lot of jurors along with the prosecution. So you need a good number of the jury pool to make sure you don’t run out of jurors,” he said.
The jury pool is large with more than 400 people expected. Monday morning at 8:30 is when the prospective jurors will start to arrive.