The William Jefferson Chronicles

Jury seated in Mose Jefferson trial after request to delay trial denied
06:58 PM CDT on Monday, August 10, 2009

Maya Rodriguez / Eyewitness News

NEW ORLEANS – The task of seating a jury in Mose Jefferson’s trial took just a day. They were sworn in around 5:45 p.m. on a day when lawyers on both side were trying to find jurors not influenced by pre-trial publicity.
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Jefferson entered federal court in New Orleans flanked by family members and his defense attorney, Mike Fawer.

“It’s very hard. Very hard,” Jefferson said. “Nothing’s been fair about this at all.”

A federal indictment alleges Jefferson bribed former Orleans Parish School Board President Ellenese Brooks-Simms with a $140,000 in kickbacks for the school board’s purchase of a computer-based educational system called “I Can Learn.”

In court Monday prosecutors asked potential jurors if they knew Brooks-Simms, who is listed as a cooperating witness for the prosecution.

For its part, the defense asked potential jurors if they knew anyone on their witness list, which includes former school board members Una Anderson and Jimmy Fahrenholtz.

But defense attorney Fawer said getting an impartial jury in this case would be challenging, because this trial is starting less than a week after former Congressman William Jefferson’s conviction on federal corruption counts.

“I think that the level of prejudice in this community is too great given the fact that the backdrop of the media frenzy over the last week or two over the William Jefferson case, coupled with the publicity this case is getting,” Fawer said. “But I don’t make that decision.”

Because of that the defense asked the judge to reconsider the motion to either continue the trial or change the venue. But the judge declined again Monday, citing her decision last week to deny the motion and move forward with the trial, here and now.

With the jury selection over, opening statements in this trial are set for 10 a.m. Tuesday.

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