Seating jury was easier than expected
By Austin Sanders, 1:43PM, Tue. Oct. 17, 2023
After a long day of questioning, a jury of Travis County residents was seated, Oct. 16, in the murder trial of Austin Police Officer Christopher Taylor for his on-duty fatal shooting of Michael Ramos in April 2020.
Taylor’s defense attorneys, Doug O’Connell and Ken Ervin, had been concerned it would not be possible to seat a fair and impartial jury in Travis County, mostly due to pretrial media coverage of the shooting. After a series of mishaps during the first attempt at seating a jury for the trial in May, District Judge Dayna Blazey – who is presiding over the trial – declared a mistrial.
Later, in August, Taylor’s attorneys attempted to move the trial out of Travis County, where they argued the court would have a better chance of seating a jury. Blazey denied that request, Sept. 15, ruling that the “defendant has failed to carry his heavy burden of proof” required to warrant moving the trial.
To improve the likelihood that a jury would be seated in Travis County, Blazey ordered the summoning of three panels of 100 potential jurors and set aside a full week for jury selection, with attorneys on each side of the case getting two hours to question each panel of jurors. Each side would also be granted 10 peremptory strikes, which allow attorneys to remove potential jurors from the pool who they think will not be fair to the defendant or prosecution.
In the end, it only took one panel and one day to find those jurors. With a jury impaneled, opening arguments in the trial are set to begin Monday, Oct. 23.
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