The 12 jurors and four alternates who will decide Jerry Sandusky’s fate in court were selected after just two days of questioning –– ten of them having ties to Penn State.
The jury, which will not be sequestered, was chosen out of a pool of over 200 Centre County residents who were summoned.
Cleland told jurors on the first day of selection that jurors would not be easily relieved of their duties.
“I’m not going to excuse you for an inconvenience,” Cleland told jurors.
Cleland stuck to his original statement and mainly dismissed jurors because of financial hardships or if they already paid for a vacation that was scheduled during the time of the trial.
Cleland said connections to Penn State would be hard to avoid during jury selection. On the first day of the trial, he reminded the jurors to not make a decision based on local ties.
Seven women and five men were chosen for the jury.
One person who was selected will be a Penn State senior in the fall, and several others have either taught at Penn State or studied there.
State College attorney Matt McClenahen said that for some types of cases there are types of jurors that an attorney looks for, but in a sexual abuse case, there isn’t an ideal juror that the defense is looking for.
“No one’s sympathetic to child molesters except other child molesters,” he said.
Stephen Gensemer, a Maryland-based attorney from Ashcraft & Gerel, also said it is hard to find jurors for sexual assault trials, but in this case he would have looked for jurors who are sympathetic to the negative portrayal of Penn State since Sandusky was charged in November.
McLenahen said if he were picking the jury for this case as the defense attorney, he would have looked for someone who would keep an open mind.
He said he would have looked for a professor or someone with a scientific background who is trained not to make assumptions before the evidence is seen.
Gensemer said having a student on the jury could play out either way.
On one hand, he said the student most likely does not have memories of Sandusky as a football coach the way many older people remember him.
But, he also said the student is more likely to be engaged in social media and is, therefore, more likely to have heard rumors or exaggerated stories.
The student did not specify what social media sites he used during questioning, only saying he follows Penn State-related news online.
Gensemer said that in high-profile cases with heavy media coverage, it is almost impossible to select a completely fair jury because it’s difficult to find jurors with no background knowledge on the case.
McClenahen also said having a jury made up of Centre County residents could possibly affect the fairness of the jury.
“The closer you get to Penn State, the more pissed off people are about these allegations and what Sandusky apparently did,” he said.
Nine jurors were selected on the June 5, the first day while the rest where chosen on the second.
There are four alternate jurors.