Friday, May 14, 2010

Hagins jury pick enters 2nd week;
panel short 1 member to proceed

Attorneys this week depleted the first full panel of potential jurors without finding enough acceptable jurors to try the government’s case against Marcus Charles Hagins, a 19-year-old Elverta man accused of committing sex offenses during a burglary.

Deputy District Attorney Jennifer R. Dupré-Tokos and Sacramento-based defense attorney Michael G. Bowman accepted 11 of the needed 12 from a panel of roughly 110 potential jurors.

In People v. Hagins, CRF-09-283 Hagins is accused of threatening a 19-year-old woman with a knife in May, 2009 after sneaking into her Plumas Lake home in the pre-dawn hours.

Plumas Lake is a bedroom subdivision located in south Yuba County near the juncture of the Feather and Bear rivers.

Hagins allegedly used a so-called “ball gag” in the commission of the crime.

Ball gags are usually associated with role-playing in bondage games. The use of a gag apparently provides some sort of erotic pleasure during the sexual act, according to Wikipedia.

“The person who wears the gag is regarded as the submissive partner, while the one not wearing one is regarded as the dominant one,” Wikipedia noted.

The use of the ball gag was reportedly a factor in charging Hagins with assault with intent to commit rape.

Use of a knife in the alleged crime means Hagins also faces a possible sentencing enhancement – i.e., more years in prison – if he is convicted.

Yuba County Superior Court Judge Kathleen Rose O’Connor called for another full panel of about 110 people.

The new juror-candidates showed up Wednesday afternoon. They viewed a video about the jury process and filled out questionnaires which O’Connor and the lawyers will review. Former Yuba County Supervisor Joan Saunders was among those summoned.

Voir dire will resume Tuesday. Voir dire is a Latin legal term which literally means “to see and to say.”

The attorneys get “to see” and question the juror-candidates face-to-face. The candidates get “to say” what they think when quizzed about their personal circumstances and if they can render a fair and honest verdict.

As defined by Gordon P. Cleary: "Voir Dire is the process by which attorneys select, or perhaps more appropriately reject, certain jurors to hear a case."

Cleary is a well-regarded Rhode Island attorney whose name popped up in appeals proceedings stemming from a notorious federal RICO racketeering case popularly called "Operation Plunder Dome."

Witnesses – in particular, expert witnesses – can sometimes be examined voir dire regarding their professional qualifications and fitness to speak.

by Tom Nadeau


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