Published September 10, 2008
LAS VEGAS – The judge in the O.J. Simpson armed robbery trial allowed jury selection to proceed Wednesday after looking into a report by two prospective jurors that they were contacted by somebody identifying himself as a member of the media.
Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass said she was confident neither person has been influenced by the contact.
It was unclear if the person actually represented a media outlet. Court officials were reviewing videotapes from the courthouse in an attempt to identify the man who contacted the two people after court adjourned Tuesday.
Court information officer Michael Sommermeyer said any media contact with jurors would be a violation of a court order and punishable with a contempt of court finding or confiscation of press credentials.
"The court and the judge are attempting to do everything in their power to empanel a jury that's as unbiased as humanly possible and not tainted by any outside influence," Sommermeyer said.
He said the two people refused to be interviewed and reported the alleged contact to the judge on Wednesday morning.
Prosecutors and defense lawyers are vying for an edge as they try to shape a jury that will decide whether Simpson and a buddy robbed two sports memorabilia dealers at gunpoint in a casino hotel room a year ago.
Twenty people have been dismissed after two days of questioning. No jurors have been seated. Twelve people have advanced through personal questioning by both sides to remain in consideration.
The two days of jury selection have been dominated by questions about the celebrity of the 61-year-old former football star, actor and advertising pitchman, his acquittal in the 1994 slayings of his ex-wife and her friend, and about the racial makeup of the jury.
Simpson and Stewart, 54, each face 12 charges, including felony kidnapping, armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon for allegedly stealing items at gunpoint from two sports memorabilia dealers.
Both men have pleaded not guilty. Each could face mandatory prison time if convicted of armed robbery. A kidnapping conviction carries the possibility of life in prison with the possibility of parole.