Juror 58: ‘I Have a Wedding To Go To’
Paying for travel expenses and having to take time off of work to go on a forced vacation usually top the list of grievances for wedding guests attending destination ceremonies. But for one of the prospective jurors in the case against alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a pre-paid wedding event was her ticket out of doing her civic duty.
As the search continues for suitable jurors to serve during Tsarnaev’s trial, most people questioned by Judge George O’Toole, Jr., who is presiding over the case, admitted that they had already formed opinions about the suspect based on media reports and information picked up since the investigation into the attack began back in April of 2013. Those biased jurors have been quickly ushered out of the courtroom and dismissed.
For Juror 58, however, the reason for slipping out of serving on the trial to decide Tsarnaev’s fate was a personal matter of a different kind: she had already put money down to attend a friend’s destination wedding in February, and there was no backing out now.
Juror 58 has a February vacation planned already, a destination wedding. She's excused.
— Milton Valencia (@MiltonValencia) January 20, 2015
— Alysha Palumbo (@AlyshaNECN) January 20, 2015
Once the excuse—it was accompanied by a letter from her employer claiming she was the only worker at a small paint shop—hit Twitter, it began trending nationally. Soon after, the Judge dismissed the potential juror, and she went on her way.
While Juror 58’s reasoning was rare thus far in the search for suitable constituents who are eligible to serve, it marked yet another roadblock prosecutors and the the suspect’s defense team have faced leading up to the trial. As previously reported by Boston, the daily searches, which have spanned the course of several days, have been long and laborious, with some of those called back to speak with O’Toole claiming they have personal connections to the bombing.
Jury selection began last month when hundreds of potential jurors were called to the John Joseph Moakley Federal Courthouse to fill out questionnaires. Based on their answers, some jurors have been called back for face-to-face interviews with O’Toole during the second phase of the selection process, which is ongoing. The jury search is expected to last three weeks, with arguments scheduled to begin on January 26, according to reports. Judge O’Toole is seeking 18 jurors for the months-long trial—12 to serve during deliberations, and six alternates.