Majority white jury selected in Simpson civil trial
Web posted at: 7:15 p.m. EDT
Fred Goldman quits job to pursue justice reform
SANTA MONICA, California (CNN) -- A majority white jury was sworn in Thursday in the O.J. Simpson civil trial as the judge rejected claims that plaintiffs targeted blacks for exclusion from the panel.
The clerk swore in a jury of eight whites, two blacks, one Hispanic and one who is part Asian and part black. Seven are women and five men.
During questioning, two of the jurors had said they considered Simpson probably guilty of murder, while the rest said they were unsure or had no opinion.
The racial make-up of the jury could be crucial since opinion polls have consistently showed an America divided over the verdict in Simpson's criminal trial, with most blacks believing in Simpson's innocence and most whites thinking him guilty.
On Wednesday, peremptory challenges were used by the plaintiffs to dismiss five black jurors and by the defense to eliminate three white jurors.
The plaintiffs didn't try to bounce a single white juror; the defense didn't target a single black.
Jurors take oath, hear warning
The jury was selected following almost a month of questioning of more than 200 potential jurors.
After the last juror was questioned, plaintiff's attorney Daniel Petrocelli said he would accept the jury panel, shifting the final decision to Simpson's camp.
Simpson huddled with four attorneys for about 30 seconds before lead attorney Robert Baker announced, "We'll accept the jury."
The court clerk then told the jurors to stand and take the oath.
Superior Court Judge Hiroshi Fujisaki told the jury to return Tuesday for opening statements.
He also gave them a list of warnings and rules, including an order to avoid telling anybody they are members of the jury in the highly publicized case.
"You have to be your own guardian of your privacy," Fujisaki said.
The questioning continued later Thursday as the judge sought to choose eight alternates who could take over if any of the jurors dropped out for health or other reasons.
Simpson was acquitted last year in the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. He was in court Thursday for the culmination of the selection of the jury that will decide whether he is liable for the deaths.
Fred Goldman, Ronald Goldman's father and one of the
plaintiffs in Simpson's wrongful death case, said Thursday he
is quitting his job of 30 years to devote his life to "the
push for change in the criminal justice system." (297K / 27 sec AIFF or WAV sound)
Goldman and the family of Nicole Brown Simpson have sued O.J. Simpson in civil court for the deaths of their loved ones. If found responsible for the murders the former football star could be forced to pay millions of dollars in damages.
The responses of potential jurors during questioning tended to bear out the racial polarization in attitudes.
During Thursday's morning session, Simpson's side called for a mistrial, charging the plaintiffs were targeting blacks to be excused from the panel.
"They are systematically excluding African-American jurors and they're not permitted to do that," said Robert Blasier, a member of Simpson defense.
But Judge Fujisaki denied the oral motion, saying: "I find no basis on which to find the plaintiff has exercised challenges on the basis of race."
Unlike a criminal trial, a civil jury verdict does not have to be unanimous and can rule in favor of either side with a majority of nine or more.
Also, its verdict can be reached on "a preponderance of evidence" as opposed to the stricter "beyond a reasonable doubt" required in a criminal trial.
Fujisaki has banned TV cameras from the civil trial.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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