Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Nearly 6 years after being indicted, R. Kelly's criminal trial for soliciting a minor for child pornography begins today. A 12 person jury has been empaneled in Chicago, that jury will likely see the grainy video showing the alleged acts. One problem for the prosecution, both R. Kelly and the alleged victim deny that the video shows them in action. Obviously the prosecutor believes he can carry the burden of proof despite this. Some think the race of the jury box will be significant. Of the 12 jurors, there are 4 African-Americans and 8 Caucasians. From R. Kelly's perspective, the small facts that have leaked out about the jurors are mixed.
A-A1: 40 yr old male chef
A-A2: 50 yr old male "Christian"
A-A3: Late 20's female teacher's aide
A-A4: 40 yr old female married to pastor, lives in R. Kelly's neighborhood
C1: 40 yr old man
C2: 20+ yr old female criminal justice major familiar with R. Kelly's music
C3: 30 yr old male compliance officer
C4: executive and father of 2
C5: man who's seen the video at issue
C6: male college grad recently arrested for marijuana
C7: 68 yr old Romanian-American describes himself as "not the smartest.."
C8: A young woman who was once raped
Despite all the attorney wrangling, one can never be certain about how a jury will respond, no matter how well the peremptory challenges went. Race does not determine the direction of the verdict, but recently it has appeared that way in high profile trials. The jury that acquitted O.J. was comprised of 8 blacks, 2 Hispanics, 1 half-Caucasian, half Native American, and 1 Caucasian female. The jury that acquitted the L.A. police officers in the Rodney King beating had 10 whites, 1 Latino and 1 Asian. For R. Kelly, race is not a central tenet of the trial, but rather one's values. R. Kelly has been rumored to been with underage girls before, most notably a marriage to Aaliyah when she was 15. Kelly's biggest concern is whether those jurors with children, who work with children, or who describe themselves as religious, will be able to see an innocent man behind the sexed up persona of R. Kelly.