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Hernandez lawyers worry about “stealth jurors”


With jury selection in first murder case against Aaron Hernandez due to begin in fewer than three weeks, Hernandez’s lawyers have a new concern.

Stealth jurors.

According to John R. Ellement of the Boston Globe, Hernandez’s lawyers fear that folks looking for notoriety or excitement will try to slip through the jury selection process in order to have a crack at putting Hernandez away.

“In criminal prosecutions involving celebrities or prominent persons, one must contemplate the possibility that one or more members of the [jury pool] may harbor illicit intentions and try assiduously -- even lie -- to become a juror thinking that it will bring them fame or simply thrills,” Hernandez’s lawyers said in court documents. Hernandez’s lawyers have asked for additional “peremptory challenges,” legalese for the number of jurors that a lawyer can strike from the pool without any specific reason or proof of potential bias. The goal will be to eliminate jurors whom the lawyers think could be inclined to convict Hernandez but who aren’t providing answers in response to questions that would get the potential jurors stricken for cause.

In Massachusetts, judges typically pose questions to potential jurors, with the lawyers not having the ability to do so. Coincidentally, a new law becomes effective on January 1, which will allow the lawyers to directly ask questions to potential jurors. Hernandez’s lawyers have asked Judge E. Susan Garsh to adopt the new procedure.

Given the amount of prejudicial information that has appeared in the media, it’s important for the lawyers to be able to find jurors who aren’t aware of the information or who truthfully will not consider it. Judge Garsh recently has ruled that evidence regarding the July 2012 shootings of Safiro Furtado and Daniel de Abreu shall not be admitted at the trial regarding the unrelated killing of Odin Lloyd. It would be fairly easy for a potential juror who simply wants to ensure that Hernandez is found guilty to lie about a lack of knowledge regarding those separate allegations.

There may not be stealth jurors, but there could be stealth Patriots fans. Via, Judge Garsh has ruled that no Patriots or other NFL-related gear or logos may be displayed in court.