Mehserle juror questionnaire released

July 24, 2010 12:25:17 AM PDT
Pages and pages of details about the people who convicted former BART officer Johannes Mehserle of involuntary manslaughter in Oscar Grant's death were released.

Late Friday, the judge released the extensive questionnaire filled-out by jurors in the case during the selection process.

The documents say a lot about the jury. It's not often when a judge allows juror questionnaires to become public after such a high-profile trial, so this is a rare opportunity to learn more about the jury that found Mehserle guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

The 12 men and women who determined the fate Mehserle came from all walks of life, spanned all age groups, and gave a wide range of answers -- especially when it came to law enforcement.

In the questionnaire, prospective jurors were asked 121 questions including: "do police officers lie?" Of the 12 seated jurors, eight responded "yes." When asked "have you ever seen a police officer act inappropriately?" three jurors said "yes."

Beth Bonora and Amy Cluff are trial consultants based in San Francisco.

"It was a good questionnaire in that it covered all the important areas, attitudes about crime, attitudes about police, attitudes about the case, experiences with the police," said Bonora.

And from what they can tell from reading the jury's answers, there seemed to be no strong biases one way the other, which is exactly what prosecutors and defense attorneys look for.

"You have a couple people who have relatives who are police officers, but even taking one who does, even that juror expressed mixed opinions about police officers," said Cluff.

The trial over the 2009 shooting death of Oscar Grant lasted weeks, but deliberations lasted only six and a half hours. Of the 12 jurors, four had previously served on juries on seven separate occasions. ABC7 legal analyst Dean Johnson says that experience is perhaps why the jury reached a verdict as quickly as it did.

"They were going to make a decision. They were going to be led if you will through the process by the more experienced jurors and they were going to get to a decision and they were going to get there quickly and that's exactly what happened," said Johnson.

Of the 12 jurors, only two had heard about this case before the trial.

Also, Grant's mother will sit down tomorrow for her first one-on-one interview since the verdict. Wanda Johnson will talk with KPFA radio in Berkeley at 8:20 a.m. on 94.1 FM.

The station is encouraging listeners to call in with questions and comments.


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