Only four hours after potential jurors filed into court in the Singer-Swapp criminal trial Friday, a jury of eight men and four women was sworn in.
About 170 were called in Wednesday. That day, they filled out questionnaires in an attempt to find a panel of unbiased jurors. After lawyers and U.S. District Court Chief Judge Bruce S. Jenkins examined the questionnaires, 70 were called back to court Friday.That day, court observers were amazed that a jury could be impaneled so quickly.
Earlier, defendants' lawyers had argued that an unbiased jury would be impossible to find because of the mountain of newspaper reports and numerous television news accounts that detailed the bombing of the LDS Kamas Stake Center, the 13-day standoff, the shootout on Jan. 28 that killed Lt. Fred House, and subsequent events.
But Friday, lawyers for all parties accepted a panel of 65 potential jurors "for cause," meaning they found no statutory problem with their credentials. Then they spent a couple of hours deciding which jurors to eliminate with peremptory challenges, winding up with a 12-member jury and two alternates.
A long list of potential witnesses was included in the questionnaire, so jurors could say whether they had relationships with any of them. But on Friday government lawyers told them names of several more.
They included talk show hosts Mills Crenshaw and John Prince; Deseret News reporter Doug Palmer, who interviewed Vickie Singer in the early stage of the crisis, and Salt Lake Tribune reporter Rodd Wagner, who interviewed Addam Swapp after Swapp was arrested.
At the end of the session, Jenkins admonished the jurors "that you stay away, stay away, from any media report of the process that's going on here . . . Simply avoid all newspaper, radio, television programs that may speak of this case."
He instructed them not to talk to anybody, including relatives, about the case. They can't even talk with each other about it until time for their deliberations.
Opening arguments are scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on April 12. Usually, the judge said, the morning session will have a 15-minute break, then continue until noon. Then after lunch, the trial will continue from 2 p.m. until around 5 p.m.
Jenkins said the case will continue four days next week, five the following week, and whatever time is needed afterward.