Defendants’ request to have ’more Trump voters’ on jury turned down

Defendants’ request to have ’more Trump voters’ on jury turned down
US President Donald Trump.

Three men accused of plotting to bomb an apartment complex housing Somali refugees in Kansas have no legal basis to request that prospective jurors come from rural counties where more residents voted for Donald Trump, a judge has ruled.

The men are accused of targeting apartments and a mosque in Garden City, a meatpacking area in rural western Kansas.

But they are being tried about 220 miles away at the closest federal courthouse in Wichita, where trials pull prospective jurors from surrounding, more urban counties.

The men argue the practice is discriminatory because it excludes western Kansas counties where more rural, conservative residents live.

US District Judge Eric Melgren ruled that the demographic differences between the regions aren’t legally recognisable and would not violate the men’s right to a jury trial before a cross-section of the community.

Prosecutors had opposed the men’s request, arguing that defence lawyers were trying to pick a jury pool based on ideology and open "a dangerous door" to similar requests in other cases.

The defendants - Gavin Wright, Patrick Stein and Curtis Allen - are accused of plotting to detonate truck bombs in Garden City a day after the November 2016 election.

They are charged with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and conspiracy against civil rights. Wright also is accused of lying to the FBI.

The men, who prosecutors allege were part of a militia group, have pleaded not guilty.

Defence lawyers noted that prospective jurors who live in southwestern Kansas were twice as likely to have voted for Trump than prospective jurors in the Wichita area.

This is considered important because jurors will have to decide whether the men’s alleged conduct constituted a crime, or whether it was protected under the constitutional rights to free speech and assembly, and to bear arms.

Mr Melgren said there was no evidence to support the "bare assertion" that citizens in southwest Kansas possess an ideology that fundamentally differs from citizens to their east in the Wichita area.

The judge also noted that adding prospective jurors from sparsely populated western Kansas counties would boost the number of registered Republicans in the jury pool by only 2.37%, which he said was "entirely insufficient to show political discrimination".

PA

More on this topic

Trump awards medals to Jon Voight and Alison KraussTrump awards medals to Jon Voight and Alison Krauss

Impeachment and the wider world: Case against Trump very different than Clinton or NixonImpeachment and the wider world: Case against Trump very different than Clinton or Nixon

Impeachment inquiry told of US ambassador’s ‘political errand’ for TrumpImpeachment inquiry told of US ambassador’s ‘political errand’ for Trump

Ukraine probes pursued at direction of Donald Trump, impeachment inquiry toldUkraine probes pursued at direction of Donald Trump, impeachment inquiry told

More in this Section

Corbyn declares war on rich and powerful with ‘manifesto of hope’Corbyn declares war on rich and powerful with ‘manifesto of hope’

Ukraine probes pursued at direction of Donald Trump, impeachment inquiry toldUkraine probes pursued at direction of Donald Trump, impeachment inquiry told

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu charged with fraud and briberyIsraeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu charged with fraud and bribery

Greenpeace activists spell out climate message on Angela Merkel’s officeGreenpeace activists spell out climate message on Angela Merkel’s office


Lifestyle

Move over quinoa.Everything you need to know about fonio, the ancient grain we’ll all be eating in 2020

The former heptathlete and all-round super woman chats to Lauren Taylor about how to stay fit in pregnancy and body confidence after a baby.Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill: ‘There’s still a lot of stigma attached to exercising pregnant’

Behaving aggressively is a stage many toddlers go through. The author of The Wonder Weeks explains how parents should deal with kids who kick & bite.Ask an expert: How can I stop my toddler kicking and biting?

It came as quite a surprise to learn that I had been writing my Weekend column in the Irish Examiner for 21 years — how the years have flown by and how the food scene has changed in Ireland over those two decades.A letter from Darina Allen: How the years have flown and the food has changed

More From The Irish Examiner