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Jury Selection Begins in Mexican Mafia Trial

May 25, 2000

LOS ANGELES — Jury selection has begun in the federal court trial of 11 suspected Mexican Mafia members accused of crimes ranging from drug trafficking to racketeering.

A pool of about 400 prospective jurors has been assembled. The trial is being held in a high-security courtroom and is expected to be lengthy.

Trial was postponed for eight other defendants facing charges that carry possible death penalties, pending the outcome of an appeal by prosecutors.

The U.S. attorney's office is contesting a ruling by District Judge Dickran Tevrizian ordering the government to give the defense internal memos detailing why it is recommending capital punishment.

Under Justice Department protocol, death penalty candidates have a right to present mitigating information to the local prosecutor and to the U.S. attorney general's staff in Washington. The attorney general has the final say over whether to seek the death penalty.

Tevrizian issued his ruling last year after defense attorneys complained that the prosecution was withholding evidence purporting to link one defendant to a triple murder in Montebello.

Tevrizian bowed out of the case and was replaced by U.S. District Judge David O. Carter, who is based in Santa Ana.

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