Jury selection began today in the second Jordan Miles V. Saldutte et al civil suit in federal court.
Out of the 61 potential jurors, only 5 were of African American descent. Three jurors were dismissed immediately, after presenting letters of hardship to Judge David Cercone, lowering the total pool to 58 potential jurors.
Out of the 58 remaining jurors, 33 informed the court that they were familiar with the Jordan Miles case through the TV, Internet, word of mouth, or in print. Despite this being nigh impossible for any resident of Pittsburgh at any point during the last four years, all of the 33 were dismissed.
One out of the five African-American potential jurors had served as a juror in the past in a police misconduct case. He was dismissed.
Attorneys for the defense, Campell, Wymard, and Leight seemed very pleased with themselves forgetting admitted into evidence bullets allegedly found on Monica Wooding’s property days after the altercation between the three officers and Miles.
Judge Cercone opened today’s proceedings with light-hearted humor, referencing popular movies such as My Cousin Vinnie, and informed jurors that the constitution exists to keep government out of our lives, aside from paying our taxes and doing jury duty. Cercone leaned fully back in his chair, as phase 1 and 2 of jury questioning began. Phase 3 of the selection/questioning process was conducted away from the public, inside the judge’s chambers.
Most of the questions to jurors related to their professions, where they lived, if they had an attorney, and what their spouses/children did for a living. Several of the potential jurors were, in fact, lawyers themselves.
Jordan Miles arrived with his family beside him, as in the past. Miles looked exhausted but confident in the legal process about to take place. Due to the jury pool taking up all the seats in the small courtroom, the Miles family had to stand throughout the proceedings.
Officer Sisak exhibited the same behavior he showed at the first trial. He looked exhausted, bored, and stared at the floor. Officer Saldutte as well; shrugging his shoulders and staring into blank space. Officer Ewing (no longer a cop with the city of Pittsburgh, but now Ross Township) stayed true to fashion, grimacing menacingly at potential jurors when he was asked to stand up so jurors could see if they recognized him.
Judge Cercone maintained the deceased Judge Lancaster’s ruling that the officers past conduct, and past complaints against them could not be introduced into evidence. This is disappointing as their past records were less than stellar.
Following a break for lunch, select jurors were pulled into Judge Cercone’s chambers for private questioning by the lawyers and the court.
After several hours of jury questioning, and all-white jury was sworn in.
Opening arguments and testimony will begin tomorrow between 9:00 and 9:15 a.m.