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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Ind. Courts - "Judge declares mistrial in Isom capital case"

Updating this ILB entry from Aug. 7, 2011, headed "Lake Judge Stefaniak said he would not tolerate lawyers using race as an excuse to exclude whites from a jury," Susan Brown writes today in the NWI Times:

CROWN POINT | Having run out of potential jurors for the Kevin Isom murder trial, Lake Criminal Court Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr. on Wednesday approved a defense motion for a mistrial.

Further proceedings on the capital case were set for March 29 and April 20. * * *

Jury selection was in its 15th day when Stefaniak agreed to the mistrial. The jury count has been stalled at nine for several days. * * *

From the bench, Stefaniak said the process complied with the state's guidelines for jury selection in a death penalty case, adding that even more jurors had been recruited than in the county's last death penalty case.

He commended members of the 270-member jury pool for their participation and sacrifice.

Stefaniak told Isom he had the right to proceed with a nine-person jury, but Isom declined. * * *

All of the information regarding the proceedings had been barred except for the jury interviews in open court. Interviews were conducted on a one-by-one basis without other jurors being present.

Selection for the jury pool had undergone two separate rounds, involving hundreds of county residents. Delays in proceedings prompted Stefaniak to dismiss the first pool and begin again, with final jury selection beginning Feb. 27.

Progress began at a slow pace and never picked up speed despite the input of many long hours six days a week by the court and members of the jury pool.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 15, 2012 01:44 PM
Posted to Ind. Trial Ct. Decisions