DALLAS - Some of the biggest names in business and politics are on the witness list for the public corruption trial of Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price. The trial is set to begin next month.
Neither Price nor co-defendant Daphney Fain was present at Monday’s pre-trial hearing. But there's some concern about the ability to seat a jury for what would be the largest corruption trial in the city's history.
Seven hundred questionnaires went out to potential jurors. Some were eliminated for hardship reasons, but the vast majority was thrown out because of bias towards Price.
His attorney told the court, “potential jurors have expressed a dislike for a man they don't know."
“That tells me John Wiley Price is very controversial, and he's very well known in the area,” said Jury Consultant Kacy Miller, who isn’t part of the corruption case. “And sitting a panel is gonna be quite challenging.”
Federal Judge Barbara Lynn said "hoping to get a jury selected out of that group."
No one has asked for a change of venue. So if a jury cannot be picked, it’s likely that the selection process would start again
“It’s probably in John Wiley Price's best interest to keep the venue here in Dallas because of his constituency and his history here in the area,” Miller said. “He's got a lot of people who love him and then he's got a lot of people who don’t.”
Once a jury is seated, the charges in the indictment will be read to them. The indictment, in this case, is more than 100 pages. The judge has said that's too much to read.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Walt Junker told Judge Lynn "the indictment should be read to the jury."
While she agreed Lynn said “this isn’t beach reading” and told both sides to agree on an indictment summary. She added “if a summary cannot be agreed to, I volunteer my red editing pen. I guarantee there will be a summary."
Judge Lynn wanted jurors to clearly understand the charges facing Fain and Price.
“The gravity of this situation is enormous,” said Miller. “And the jurors who are ultimately selected will be changing the lives of these two defendants.”
Jury selection is set to begin on February 21.