After three long days filled with tedious interviews, 12 trial jurors — eight women and four men — and eight alternate jurors have been selected for the trial of Ammon Bundy and six other defendants.
The jury is mostly white and includes a Mormon mother of four from Eugene as well as a former Bureau of Land Management firefighter from Baker City, who said the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in January “happened in my backyard.”
Another juror, a woman from Hood River, claimed she doesn’t read the news and lives “in a world of art,” as an explanation for her limited knowledge about the occupation.
The identities of the jurors are withheld to protect them from the public.
Four jurors are from the Portland metro area. Other jurors include an African-American man from Klamath Falls, a state employee, a woman who works at Boeing and another juror who lives in St. Helens.
One juror seated in the case works at Les Schwab, the tire store chain. He described his initial reaction after getting the jury summons as “oh gosh,” but claimed in court this week that he was “excited.”
Nearly 100 potential jurors from all over Oregon were questioned as part of the jury selection process. U.S. District Court Judge Anna Brown dismissed some for hardship, while others were dismissed for potential prejudice. Defense attorneys said it’s unusual to get a jury in Portland that’s from all over the state.
Ongoing coverage of the federal case against the people involved in the 41-day armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and how life has changed in Harney County, Oregon.
Prosecutors have charged defendants with conspiring to prevent federal workers from doing their jobs at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon.
Throughout the interview process, Brown asked potential jurors about their views on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Many of the defendants are Mormon.
“I know that they have beautiful churches,” said one juror seated on the case.
She also asked potential jurors about their views on the First and Second Amendments.
Brown asked the jurors about their exposure to the case from the media.
One potential juror, a student at Portland Community College, said he had “no idea” about the case.
“This is the first juror who has no idea,” Brown said, smiling and throwing her hands up off her desk.
“I think it would be a great experience,” said the student, who wore a suit and tie.
While eight alternate jurors may seem like a lot, the trial is expected to last nine weeks and Brown said she wants to assure the government and defendants their trial preparations will not be in vain.