4,000 jury summons sent out for Amber Guyger murder trial

The process of jury selection in the Amber Guyger murder case is expected to span at least a week.

It was September 6, 2018, when then Dallas Police Department Officer Amber Guyger shot and killed Botham Jean.

She told police she mistook his apartment for hers, as she lived one floor below, and thought he was an intruder.

She was later fired from the police department and charged with murder.

The judge has cast a wide net for potential jurors in this trial, more than anyone can remember.

About 4,000 Dallas County citizens have been summoned to appear Friday morning as the jury selection process gets underway.

The former officer, now defendant, Amber Guyger, her legal team, and prosecutors will be in the central jury room at Frank Crowley Courthouse as the process of picking the jurors to weigh the evidence in this trial begins.

Thousands of jury summons were mailed out, but for various reasons, only 500-600 are expected to show up.

“We have summons that go out to faulty addresses, so people don’t ultimately get them. We have jurors exempt for whatever reason; age, military. And unfortunately, nationwide, we have a problem with people just not honoring their jury summons,” jury consultant Kacy Miller explained.

Miller has more than 20 years of experience as a jury consultant.

She was able to discuss the Guyger trial because she is not working for either side.

“And the judge will present to them a written questionnaire. Could be a couple of pages, might be as many as five, might be as many as 10,” Miller said.

The carefully crafted questionnaire is designed to get more information about the possible jurors.

“Looking for jurors who might have a bias or prejudice against one side or the other that will potentially make them ineligible,” Miller said.

The pool of jurors will fill out the questionnaire, and leave that in the jury room.

Judge Tammy Kemp, who is presiding over the case, and lawyers for both sides will go through those answers and whittle down the number being considered to serve on the jury.

“This case has had a lot of attention, both in social media, especially print media, television media,” Miller said. “The parties need to identify jurors who have had exposure to that, but exposure to the media does not necessarily excuse a juror from serving.”

Those chosen - maybe 200-250 – come back September 13 to answer questions from the attorneys in what’s called “voir dire,” which means: to seek the truth.

“And it can be an uncomfortable process for jurors if they don’t understand the purpose of it, because it feels like people are interrogating them. And you’re in a room with 250 of your new best friends and being asked to comment on sometimes topics that are uncomfortable, or politically or socially sensitive,” Miller added.

Based on “voir dire,” Judge Kemp will determine if a fair and impartial jury can be seated, before moving ahead with any change of venue hearing which was requested by the defense.

“I think it shows me she has faith in the jury system, faith in Dallas County jurors, and has a high hope that by summoning such a large number and allowing a written questionnaire and probably extensive oral “voir dire,” that she and they can seat, in fact, an impartial jury,” Miller said.