Pre-Trial Day 7 – Final Draft Rounds

9:40 start – – I’m sitting in the media row with people who are becoming much more chummy, as we drag through the days together. We makeup an unusual mix: several attorneys who are invested in how this case evolves, a sassy actress Jill, activist Carey Gillam, committed environmentalist Robert Kennedy Jr., a stud from Switzerland who is taking care of his uncle who has NHL, and a quiet typist.

Note: I’m going to approach today’s blog with brevity, because it was FOUR rounds of questioning of more potential jurors, and it still isn’t done. By the final round in the late afternoon, Mr. Dickens accidentally said, “Good Morning!” to the jurors, and then laughed and said, “I don’t know what time it is at this point.” Even Judge Bolanos mistakingly concluded one round before Ms. Edwards had her turn questioning. All was corrected, but everyone is sweaty and tired.

A SAMPLING OF FOLKS WE MET TODAY

A man who feels that the case is misdirected, and any wrongdoing should be addressed with the EPA for saying that something carcinogenic is safe.

A woman who has a masters in Epidemiology. Questioning surrounds whether she would have respect for epidemiological reports that may have collected and presented data is a way that is different from what she was taught.

A woman who works in beauty at Sephora Corporate. She expresses her disgust that the US has under 30 chemicals on the do-not-use list, while Europe has well over 1000.  Therefore, she has little trust in the regulatory bodies like the EPA and FDA.

A man who comes in and out of a thick accent. One second, we can understand him, the next it is unintelligible.

A man who I would like to be friends with – he’s an author of fiction but also does freelance journalism in covering the arts. He is so emphatic in his responses, speaking of his time during Vietnam when he was serving in the Peace Corps. Given the devastation that Agent Orange caused, he has extremely negative feelings towards Monsanto. He wants to share why he has a problem with Roundup, but is interrupted by the Defendant counsel. I guess he has potential to taint the jury. I will miss him.

A woman who had a revelation when she filled out the questionnaire. There is a question about whether or not you believe that pesticides can cause cancer.  She had never thought about it in great length. Her father’s family were farmers. All of the family had cancer, and she hadn’t connected it to the use of pesticides until the questioning. Doctors had always said that the cancer was from “bad genes”.

One man who used Roundup once, and found the smell so toxic that he can certainly believe that it is carcinogenic.

A bearded man who is a retired appellate-level, research and writing attorney. He is involved in numerous environmentally-focused organizations. He says that his brother-in-law is a senior state attorney who recently brought an action against Monsanto.  People were congratulating him on the case at a drunken St. Patrick’s Day party. Because of confirmation bias, he doesn’t feel anyone can be fully impartial, including himself.

A man who feels that it is best to respect nature and not use chemicals nor GMOs. He starts telling why he is concerned about GMO and pesticide long term impact, but is interrupted by the Defendant. In follow-up questioning, he says that Monsanto is at the top of his list of disliked corporations.

A biologist who worked at SFO years ago, assessing the industrial waste system by walking on the tarmac to gauge sewage spills and leaking machinery. (Turns out that runoff goes into the SF Bay, so he had to test the water levels as well.  Aren’t there a lot of kite surfers there?)

THE NUMBERS

After lengthy debate and jockeying, a jury of twelve is locked in! This process reminds me a bit of a fantasy league or athletic draft. Seven men and five women. At the end of the day, they are still looking to lock in four alternates. A new panel was called up and several people were dismissed from the crowd.

For those who haven’t seen comprehensive jury selection in action, both sides have boards with post-its, not unlike a wedding seating chart. The post-its are assigned to potential jurors and filled in with details during questioning. The Monsanto team has a sweet one that nicely folds like a menu.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

I rode down in the elevator with some of the Monsanto team. Everyone is so tired. We had all hoped that opening statements would be imminent, but now it looks to likely be pushed to next Monday. Will find out tomorrow!

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