Maybe Judge Ito asked the wrong questions


As TV drama, the Simpson trial is starting to sag. We can only take so much of Mr. Fung trying to remember if he knows a blood splat from a dab of ketchup.

And while Marcia Clark's new hairdo was thrilling, how often can she have it redone before her hair all falls out?

So if it's at all possible, the cameras should be allowed to go where the heavy action is taking place.

I'm talking, of course, about the jury. From what is leaking out, it sounds like the jurors are on the brink of having their own homicides or a mini-riot.

The last juror to be bounced was called in by Judge Lance Ito to talk about some of the strange things she said have been going on.

This is how Jeanette Harris, who is black, described how a white female juror goes around kicking black jurors:

". . . When she walked in, I mean, I went out of my way. I turned to the side so that my foot wouldn't be in her way.

"And what was amazing to me was, she literally picked her foot up and kicked me.

"You know, there was no doubt in my mind, you know, you want to say, well, maybe, or even if it was an accident, you're saying, well, people say, 'Excuse me.'

"But she picked her foot up, she kicked me and she proceeded to, you know, go down to her seat, and she took her foot and stomped 1489 (a black male juror).

"Well, he's not as cool as I am and he kind of got upset.

"So we kind of, well, OK, calm down. There is ways to handle things like this. I mean, when we went back into the jury room, he was still upset, very angry."

Judge Ito: "Can you think of any reason why 353 would kick you in any way?"

Harris: "I can imagine why she would kick me."

Judge Ito: "Had there been any other conflict or friction with her?"

Harris: "Oh, yeah. . . . The blood between us wasn't necessarily good, but we would -- we never argued per se -- but there was that body language and she knew that she didn't like me and I knew that I didn't like her."

Judge Ito: "How about between 353 (the white woman) and 1489 (the black man)?"

Harris: "Well, 1489, he intimidated, I suspect, just his presence. And not only the white jurors, even some of the African-American jurors he would.

"Like if you're watching a movie, he would say, you know, 'Could you guys hold it down?' Or whatever. If you were riding in the van, he didn't like a lot of noise. But I . . . don't believe there was the same blood between he and her as it was between me and she. . . . I can't explain her. I don't know where she's coming from."

Judge Ito: "Were you witness to any other conflict between 1489 and 353?"

Harris: "Yeah. When he was watching a movie one day, she and 1427, they hit him in the head. You know, physically hit him in the head."

Judge Ito: "Do you know why they hit him in the head?"

Harris: "No. He was sitting in the front row and they were walking behind him, and they hit him. . . . We tried to keep one another calm. And myself and 1233 calmed him down and he addressed it.

"He told them one day in the jury room, you know, 'You guys hit me. You literally hit me. And I don't like it.'

"And 353 jumped up and ran and got a deputy. And then we were told, 'Don't talk about anything in this room.' . . . I felt he had every right, if someone hit him, to say, 'You hit me and I don't like it.' But the deputies. . . ."

But it has been more than foot-stomping and head-hitting. It appears that some of the jurors might not like the way other jurors smell.

Harris: "The day before I left, 1427 sat on the van. She couldn't breathe the same air that I think 2475, the little elderly African-American would, she literally couldn't breathe the same air.

"[She said] 'I need air,' and insisted on opening the window because she was sitting next to this juror.

"You know, this is not just little trivial things that come off the top of my head. There were literally racial problems -- I don't want to breathe the same air this woman is breathing."

It appears that Judge Ito and the lawyers didn't ask the right questions when they selected jurors. Such as:

* Would you kick or stomp your fellow jurors?

* Are you inclined to whomp people in the head?"

* Does it matter to you how a fellow juror smells?"

It also seems unlikely that these jurors will agree on a verdict. People who kick, hit or sniff each other sometimes have trouble communicating.

But if they do agree, the judge should keep his eyes peeled for any jurors with broken feet, cracked heads, or clothespins on their noses.

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