Bates Jury Selected From Pool Of 65 Tulsa County Citizens

Thursday, April 21st 2016, 10:53 pm
By: News On 6

Deputies took the stand Thursday in the manslaughter trial of a former Tulsa County reserve deputy.

One testified he saw Bob Bates with his head down and it looked like he was asleep just moments before the takedown of Eric Harris last year that ended with his death.

4/21/2016 Related Story: Deputy Testifies He Saw Bob Bates Nod Off Before Fatal Tulsa Shooting

The deputies testified to an all-white jury, and the attorney who represents the Harris family in a civil lawsuit against Bates said in a release, “At the very least, this lack of racial diversity gives the appearance of a ‘stacked deck.’"

Many are wondering how juries are selected. Court administrator, Vicki Cox, said, “It is completely random. It is completely computerized."

Every citizen with a driver’s license or identification card in Tulsa County is in the pool of potential jurors. Computer software randomly picks people who are then summoned.

Cox said, "You never really know who's going to show up. What age they're going to be or anything. All you really know is that they live in Tulsa County."

Judges have a set of general questions they ask during jury selection; then, according to Cox, “Lawyers will ask questions, depending on what case it is."

In Bates' case, 65 potential jurors were asked questions as part of their selection process.

Those people were given a written questionnaire and asked questions by the attorneys, like, "Have you posted anything online about the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office," and "Where do you get your news?"

But, a random jury selection process doesn't mean jurors will be diverse. Smolen released a statement Thursday, saying, "The entire jury pool of 65...included only four African-Americans...At worst, this lack of juror diversity could constitute a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment."

The trial continues Friday at 9 a.m. at the Tulsa County courthouse.