Stagliano Trial Attorneys Probe Potential Jurors

Lyla Katz and Rachel Larris
WASHINGTON — The jury selection process is proceeding slowly in the federal obscenity trial against John Stagliano.

Potential jurors have filled out questionnaires, which ask for some basic biographical information and their prior experience with the law and legal system, as well as their knowledge of this case.

The questionnaire can also probe other areas which may affect whether a juror can be impartial about the case.

Judge Richard J. Leon has denied a request to release a blank sample jury questionnaire to the public. He has stated he will release a blank questionnaire when the case is concluded.

Originally it was estimated that a jury could be seated by the close of court on Friday with opening statements in the case to begin Monday, July 12.

The questionnaire that was released to the public in May explains to perspective jurors what the case is about, stating that the government alleges the defendants have violated federal obscenity laws and defendants used the Internet and a common carrier to distribute obscene material in interstate commerce.

Further, the questionnaire states, the defendants have pleaded not guilty to the charges and are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Among the questions prospective jurors have to answer are:

  • Have you or any member of your family ever been audited or had a dispute with any city, county, or state agency or department of the U.S. government?

  • How frequently do you visit Internet websites?

  • Do you use a personal computer?

  • Do you believe the adult entertainment industry, and those affiliated with the industry, should be allowed to operate free of government regulation?

  • Do you believe the government's regulation of the adult entertainment industry is too lenient?

  • The jury in this case will be required to view some evidence that includes adult sexually explicit material. Would your personal reaction to such material or your personal moral or religious beliefs prevent you from looking at such material and considering it as evidence in this case?

  • Jurors will also be instructed that they must not be influenced in their decision by personal likes or dislikes, opinions, prejudices or sympathy. Would your personal reaction to pornography or your personal moral beliefs prevent you from following these instructions?

  • Do you believe you would consider the evidence fairly, impartially and according to the law?

A hearing to begin voir dire challenges to strike potential challenges was set for Thursday afternoon, but officials closed court right after the hearing began.

Stagliano walked out of the courtroom visibly upset that the press wasn't allowed into court, as the attorneys and the judge examined the jury questionnaire.

A hearing has been scheduled for Friday morning.