Jury selection in next month’s rape trial of former University of Montana Grizzlies quarterback Jordan Johnson will be held at the Holiday Inn because no courtroom in Missoula is large enough to handle it, a judge said Tuesday.

At a court hearing, the prosecution and defense attorneys confirmed that they’re on track for a Feb. 8 trial, although both sides said they expected to file last-minute motions and requests. For weeks now, all such filings, as well as Missoula County District Court Judge Karen Townsend’s orders in the case, have been sealed from the public.

The case has attracted intense scrutiny, and the prosecution sought an extra large jury pool. The Missoula County District Court Clerk’s Office has contacted 400 potential jurors.

Defense attorney David Paoli told Townsend on Tuesday he’d prefer that jury selection be done in a courtroom.

Not possible, she responded. “We can’t accommodate everyone,” she said.

Johnson was charged in July with sexual intercourse without consent after a fellow UM student said he raped her as they watched a movie at her home in February 2012. He was suspended from the team as a result.

Missoulian reporter Gwen Florio can be reached at 523-5268, gwen.florio@missoulian.com, or @CopsAndCourts.

(21) comments

Alan Johnson
Alan Johnson

The comments on either side are interesting. The 400-person panel is very unusual. But what is more unusual is that it is the state that requests it. Usually it is the defendant wants the bigger panel in hopes to opvercome the usual prejudice most have against someone charged with a crime. Here it appears the state is the one more concerned that it will have a hard time finding jurors willing to consider its side of the case. Of course both sides have requested a jusry panel larger than usual. Routinely there are usually no more than 40 panelists called, because once the vior dire questioning is over, there are 24 prospective jurors left, with maybe 27 if an alternate juror is also seated. On those 24, the defense gets to remove six and so does the prosecution. The 12 left are the jury. If an alternate is seated, each side gets to remove one juror, with the one left being the alternate. That person hears the case, but does not vote unless one of the original jurors is dismissed. Usually one alternate is seated just to cover the contingency that one of the jurors might get ill or have a family emergency that requires them to leave.

What happens before that time is questioning designed by attorneys to both educate the panel about the issues in the case and to determine if any juror would have any trouble being fair. If one side believes a juror's answers show he or she might not be fair, then it can challenge the juror for cause. The challenges after the panel is passed by both sides for cause are the preemptory challenges that each side gets.

canucking
canucking

Guilty. Just plea it out and quit wasting out tax dollars.

Bass Whacker
Bass Whacker

Innocent. She should just admit she was pissed he only wanted a one-night stand and made it up and quit wasting our tax dollars.

RogerRabbit
RogerRabbit

Agreed Bass Whacker!!

walter12
walter12

This kid has been the target of vicious attacks by certain arch-leftist and feminist groups from UM from the start. It is part and parcel of their chest beating agenda. There is no way that this trial will be fair.

montanamuralist
montanamuralist

I dont see a fair trial here either. The fact the University now has a mandatory class on sexual assault for all incoming students that says if a woman reports sexual assault it is ALWAYS true. The facts that I love to remind people about, are otherwise so I agree with Walter in this case that th3e agenda of those in the extreme in my party and political persuasion are using Johnson in a case that for me, if on a jury, would be very questionable. I also am not a big fan of Townsend the way I used to be because she is not fair, she is taking the side of the prosecution, being an ex prosecutor of course, and that is a miscarriage right there. I am sorry leftist womens groups, if you are raped by someone and have your roommates there in the house, you call the police or at least run and hide or get away from the person......you do not give the guy a ride home..sheesh how hard is this....????

Alan Johnson
Alan Johnson

I have to disagree with you on Judge Townsend. I think you are using her rulings on the probable cause motion and on the high volumes of evidence sought as an example of bias. But no court in the state would have granted a dismissal for lack of probable cause. The bar for probable cause is very low. Probable cause challenges are rare and I know of none that have been granted. But the motion did serve to get the defendant's story out to the general public.

Voters do seem more likely to vote for prosecutors in judge elections. Rightly or wrongly, the public perception that courts are too lenient with criminals causes most voters to feel better with an ex-prosecutor on the bench. Once on the bench, what a lawyer has done before taking the bench is not necessarily a predictor. Some ex-prosecutors have been keen on protecting the rights of the accused from the bench. A judge's job and a prosecutor's job are very different.

With the cell phone evidence, again the defendant's request for volumes of school records all cell messages, etc was over-broad. A motion to compel has to be more than a request for a fishing expedition just on the chance that there might be something relevant to show up.. There must be some cause shown that the evidence sought will have relevance to the case. Again, I see the ruling on this motion as pretty typical of the way a district court would rule.

SteviGirl
SteviGirl

The Prosecution has requested 400 people because it will take that many -- and likely more -- to get 12 co-conspirators to support their outrageous claims. Anyone find it interesting that Mr. Johnson has 2 attorneys who've said 100 people for the jury pool should more than suffice, while the "victim" (boy, do I use that term loosely) has a team of a half-dozen lawyers who need a jury pool of 4-5 times the size proposed by the defense? What's wrong with this picture? Isn't it generally the other way around? I would think that Johnson would have a squadron of lawyers -- then again, only if he was trying to wriggle out of charges. The truth is, he needs less hoopla because the case is black & white: he did not commit rape. And the truth is absolute: it does not yield to the theatrics and shenanigans which comprise "VanValkenburg's Legal Menagerie and Traveling Road Show." The more that truth is on your side, the less you require to prove it to others. I can't wait until this young man is exonerated, then I hope he DOES hire a passel of attorneys to help him sue the pants off the University of Montana, his accuser, Missoula County and anyone else responsible for this egregious abuse of justice.

Edited by staff.

hellgatenights
hellgatenights

This is NOT a "RAPE TRIAL" as drama queen Gwen wrote.......it is a trial for Johnson to defend himself against malicious prosecution. Get the title right Gwen.

Attorney Paoli is going to make the DA look like the grandstanding morons they are. May result in a trip to the bar to explain their mischief and bad faith.

sportscaster
sportscaster

"Rape trial" in both the headline and the lead paragraph. Seems that The Missoulian, in its ongoing effort to sell more papers to avoid going the way of the dinosaur, has already decided that Johnson is beyond alleged rapist status, is guilty as charged, and now only awaits sentencing.

Bittersweet
Bittersweet

Prosecutors had requested a 500-person jury pool in the case, although the defense said a 100-person pool is more reasonable. Also, 5 prosecutors assigned to the case? I guess he is being afforded "special accommodations."

MsEmily
MsEmily

Why is this individual afforded special accommodations by having a huge jury pool that others are not afforded? Once again, the victim is re-victimized and has less rights and that's what is known as equal justice under the law.

Edited by staff.

Aberdeen
Aberdeen

HUH??? This trial has received enormous publicity locally, around the State and even Nationally: trying to get a "fair and unbiased" juror in Missoula County will be difficult, and there is a high probability that lots of potential jurors will be dismissed, hence the large juror pool. Remember, both the Prosecution and the Defense can dismiss a potential juror; it's not a special accomodation to the Accused.. So please, take off your "Ms" colored glasses and try to comment objectively about the jury selection process.

Edited by staff.

Chris Jones
Chris Jones

Jordan is afforded special accommodations because we don't want people like you on the jury. As far as I can tell we don't know if there is a rape victim here or not. So how can someone be "re-victimized" in that case. Maybe Jordan is the victim here. We don't know. What we do know is some people will pre-judge the case and we don't want any of them sitting on the jury, as Mr. Johnson is entitled to a fair trial.

Edited by staff.

dave ajou
dave ajou

Exactly. And when any potential juror wades through the six pages of questions, they might still have a hard time seating a jury.

Edited by staff.

Elle
Elle

It's relatively easier to obtain a nonpartial jury for most cases. Seeing as this is a Griz player and his name and face and story have been in the newspaper and on the news, in addition to the other Griz Football related news, it's difficult obtain that same number of people who are fairly unfamiliar with the case or those related to it.

Edited by staff.

Bittersweet
Bittersweet

Ummmmmmmmm, likely because this case was so widely publicized. Unless you live in a cave it is likely most have already formed an opinion about guilt or innocence. It will take a huge jury pool to find a dozen people that have been living in a cave. You are a prime example of one that has already decided the accused is guilty unless you meant to say "alleged victim" Make sense now?

Edited by staff.

Sukey
Sukey

Emlly, it was the PROSECUTION that demanded the huge jury pool, and the Defense attorney that wanted jury selection in a Court Room, not in a circus sized hotel room.

Edited by staff.

TRichard
TRichard

Remember that it's the prosecution that has requested the pool of 400, the defense has called the number excessive.

Edited by staff.

Aberdeen
Aberdeen

Once we eliminate those folks in the Jury Pool who have ever gone to the UM, read the Missoulian or watch local TV News, attended a Griz football game or wear Grix-wear, hate the Griz, have a pre-conceived notion about football players and/or young women, or know in their minds the the local police are always right and/or wrong, finding an unbiased jury should be easy in Missoula.

Roger
Roger

Your bias is showing - don't you understand that a person is presumed innocent until or unless he is proven guilty and convicted in a court of law? If you're really concerned about equal justice under the law, you should be pushing for an investigation into why males typcially receive significantly harsher sentences than females.

Edited by staff.

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