Picking jurors in Phila. clergy abuse case likely to be a long slog


February 22, 2012
By Elizabeth Fiedler

Today lawyers and a judge continue to plod through jury selection in the Philadelphia Archdiocese abuse case. It could take weeks to pick the 12 jurors and 10 alternates to hear the case of two former parish priests charged with abuse, plus a former, ordained administrator charged with endangering children.

Jury selection in a high-profile, high-stakes case like this clergy abuse trial is “very, very, very hard,” said Edward Ohlbaum, a professor of law at Temple University’s School of Law.

He said it will be a real challenge to find jurors who are unaware of the grand jury investigation into abuse by Catholic clergy that led to these charges, or who don’t have strong feelings about the general topic of abuse by clergy.

“The law doesn’t require that somebody sit on the jury without opinions,” Ohlbaum said. “But the law does say that if somebody has an opinion that favors one side or the other, that the opinion can not be fixed. We want people to be able to set aside their prejudices – because we all have them. And that’s really a hard job to be able to set that aside.”

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