Here’s why jury selection took so long.
Selecting an impartial jury from a small town where everyone knows everyone meant filtering through hundreds of candidates.,
Jury selection in the trial of the three men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery took two and a half weeks, an extraordinarily long process made difficult by the high-profile nature of the case.
The jury was chosen from Glynn County, Ga., which has a population of about 84,500. Court officials cast a wide net, setting up an intake center at a gymnasium in a local park, where hundreds of potential jurors were given an initial screening. Eventually, a pool of 65 was assembled, to be whittled to 12 jurors and four alternates.
Annie Deets, a public defender and adjunct law professor at Georgia State and Emory Universities, said she had seen jury selection completed in as little as a day or two and, in some cases, up to a week. The length of the process in the Arbery case, she said, was a rarity.
The task of finding an impartial jury for a case involving three separate defendants was already difficult — and the challenges were compounded by the fact that Mr. Arbery’s killing was among the most explosive murder cases in South Georgia in decades. Many potential jurors said they had viewed the video of Mr. Arbery’s fatal encounter taken by one of the defendants.
“When you have a case that’s high profile and been in the media so much, people make ideas based off snippets and pieces of information,” Ms. Deets said. “But there’s a wealth of information known to the prosecution that the public doesn’t know about.”
This becomes even more challenging when one considers the court system’s desire to find a local jury, consisting of each defendant’s peers.
“In a small community, people know a lot of people involved in the case,” Ms. Deets said. “That really close-knit web of relationships complicates the process even further.”