David J. Gardner

OREM — A jury pool of 70 will be called for the sexual battery trial of former Utah County Commissioner David J. Gardner, a judge ruled Friday.

Fourth District Judge John Backlund said a jury of six, with one or two alternates, will be selected from the pool to hear the case beginning Feb. 28.

Potential jurors will be called in on Feb. 27 to fill out a questionnaire and begin jury selection, unless continuing negotiations between the prosecution and defense yield a settlement.

Gardner, 52, is charged with a class A misdemeanor for allegedly grabbing the thigh of a 26-year-old woman and kissing his fingers and putting them in her mouth during separate car trips on the same day in April 2007, according to Springville police reports. Springville City Prosecutor Paul DeWitt told Backlund that he had filed a notice to submit evidence of prior bad acts by Gardner, but said he would only attempt to do so if the defense introduces character witnesses on behalf of Gardner.

Gardner defense attorney Mike Esplin said he doesn't plan to call any character witnesses.

Gardner served two terms as county commissioner from 1995 to 2002.

He was arrested in March 1999 when he ran his car off the road and caused a grass fire. Tests showed his blood-alcohol level was at or above the legal limit. He told police he had a vodka with his lunch and accepted a sip of a drink from a hitchhiker he picked up.

A DUI charge was later dismissed on a technicality.

In August 2000, Gardner was charged with disorderly conduct after he was accused of roughing up a 9-year-old boy for harassing his children.

Gardner was arrested again in October 2000. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor DUI charges, theft and driving with an open container. He served two days on a jail work detail, paid a fine and served probation.

He denied wrongdoing in each case.

Gardner is licensed as a marriage and family therapist through the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing. He has been on probation with DOPL since Dec. 3, 2002.

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