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Clinton Heeds Another Call to Serve -- on a Jury

But ex-president isn't a good fit for panel, say prosecutors. A federal judge will rule whether the man who appointed her can participate.

March 02, 2003|From Associated Press

NEW YORK — Former President Clinton has been tapped for jury duty.

A questionnaire designed to help defense lawyers and prosecutors select a jury for a federal attempted murder case indicated that Prospective Juror No. 142 was William Jefferson Clinton.

Although Clinton's name was never disclosed at a hearing in federal court in Manhattan on Friday, his answers, read aloud in the courtroom, provided the giveaway.

Under previous jobs held, the respondent answered "President of the United States."

He also wrote that he thought he could be fair and impartial, despite his "unusual experience with the O.I.C.," or Office of Independent Counsel.

David E. Kendall, Clinton's lawyer, said that Clinton is ready and willing to serve. "The former president is subject to jury duty, he's done his part, and if selected he would serve," Kendall told reporters.

Federal prosecutors and the attorney for the defendant, Dushon Foster, disagreed about whether Prospective Juror No. 142 should be selected for the case. Foster is charged with attempted murder in an alleged gang shooting and could face life in prison if convicted.

"Any particular question in Questionnaire 142 that you want to direct me to?" Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald asked the prosecutors.

"All of them, judge," a prosecutor, Daniel M. Gitner, told the court.

"I suspect there has never been anyone who answered yes to so many questions and survived the voir dire process," said Buchwald, referring to the next step in the jury selection process -- a personal interview that prospective jurors who were not removed by the judge would undergo.

Defense lawyer Roger L. Stavis disagreed with the prosecution and said that No. 142 should not be immediately disqualified.

But Buchwald, who was appointed by Clinton in 1999, appeared to agree with the prosecutors, citing concerns about sensationalism.

"To have Juror 142 here, with Secret Service protection is to, it seems to me, undermine our efforts to keep the case focused quietly on the evidence," Buchwald said.

Buchwald said that if she changed her mind, she would let the prosecutors and defense attorney know by Monday.

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