It’s been quite a while since we checked in on the ongoing military prosecution of Private Bradley Manning, the United States serviceman accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of confidential documents to Wikileaks.
This week, as the court-martial is still crawling forward, Manning’s attorneys raised the point that it will be pretty hard (read: freaking impossible) to find a military jury that isn’t seriously familiar with his case.
That isn’t totally surprising. When you are the face of the biggest leak of classified information an American history, it’s going to be hard to find “peers” who don’t know who you are or what you’ve allegedly done. So what are you gonna do about it?
From ABC News:
At Tuesday’s hearing, military prosecutors and Manning’s attorneys sparred over questions defense lawyers want to ask to screen potential military jury members. Potential jury members are asked a series of written and then oral questions before being put on the jury. [David] Coombs, Manning’s lead defense attorney, said he is using the questions to learn about jurors’ open-mindedness and familiarity with issues in the case, but also what makes the potential jurors “tick.”
Oh Lord, voir dire is going to be miserable here. Attorneys for both sides have created a list of more than 100 questions for potential jurors, going over everything from what types of media they read to opinions on “don’t ask don’t tell” being repealed, to participation in protests, and familiarity with “gender identity disorder.” And as our JAG readers probably already know, military jury selection is different than picking a jury in civilian court:
Unlike a civilian jury, military jurors get chosen by a senior officer to be part of a pool of potential jurors. They can then be questioned and selected to participate in a trial.
Manning has not yet specifically elected to have a jury hear his case and could decide to have a judge hear the case. However, the default in a case like his is to have a jury that would be drawn from a pool of military members stationed in the Washington area.
Man, I don’t even remember if I sympathized with Manning or not. We all know the legal process takes forever, but it would just be nice to get this show on the road and get to the Tom Cruise / Jack Nicholson showdown already.