O.J. Simpson is about to come face to face with the next 12 most important people he's ever seen in his life.
A jury was seated Thursday for the erstwhile murder defendant's upcoming trial in Las Vegas on armed robbery, kidnapping, conspiracy and other charges related to an alleged sports memorabilia heist that Simpson is accused of masterminding a year ago.
Simpson and codefendant Clarence "C.J." Stewart have pleaded not guilty on all counts.
Whether or not the chosen dozen (and six alternates) really have no biases toward the Naked Gun star will never truly be known, but both the prosecution and the defense are just gonna have to hope.
The 400-strong potential jury pool started filling out paperwork over the summer to help ease the process before selection began Monday.
The pool was whittled down to 40 earlier today and all involved expected a jury to have been seated by the end of the day.
But it's not as if the day just flew by, especially for the defense. Simpson's team objected strongly to at least one of the final 40—a former cop who called Simpson a "murderer" who "got away with it" on his jury survey yet was not dismissed after telling the court he had deliberately tried to sound excessive on his questionnaire to avoid jury duty.
"I'm a firm believer in the system," the man said. "He won. He's a free man until he comes here."
“He lied on a sworn affidavit,” Simpson attorney Yale Galanter objected to Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass. “He's not a qualified prospective juror.” The defense team still had four peremptory challenges left moving into the final phase, so it's possible it used one against the ex-cop.
Also getting the defense's goat was the fact that they ended up with an all-white jury panel, minus two alternates.
Glass said that she saw no evidence of any systematic exclusion on the prosecution's part and Clark County District Attorney David Roger said that he had "race neutral" reasons for using peremptory challenges on two black women.
Arguments about systematic exclusion to the contrary, Galanter still expressed confidence in Simpson's case.
"I don't think my client did anything wrong, I don't think he broke any laws," he said. "I'm glad that we're finally at the point where we can get these issues resolved."
Opening statements are scheduled to begin Sept. 15.
(Originally published Sept. 11, 2008 at 8:22 p.m.)