Thursday, April 5, 2018

El Chapo Case: Proposed Joint Jury Questionnaire

by Chivis Martinez for Borderland Beat

Below is the joint, proposed, questionnaire, that pending court approval, will be used to select a jury in Joaquin Guzman’s case.  It is anticipated that the judge will have at least 650 potential jurors completing this questionnaire in mid-August.

From that number, the parties will strike many for cause (prejudice, inability to serve, etc.).

The remaining individuals will be called beginning September 5 for final jury selection.

Judge Brian Cogan estimates the trial to last 12 weeks.

Aside from questions personal in nature, many questions center on exposure to crime cases in general and specifically on the El Chapo Case, and any potential prejudices that may exist.  I have pulled 18 questions from the 120 for your perusal.  To review all questions refer to the Scribd document below.

Blog questions:

37. Have you ever called in to a radio talk show, written a letter to the editor, participated in any web-blogs or chat rooms on the internet or posted a comment on-line?
 (a) If YES, what type:
[ ] Radio Caller [ ] Editorial
[ ] Blog/Chat Room [ ] Posted Comment
(b) If YES, what topics have you addressed?

41. Do you watch any television programs or read any books about crime, including shows about drug trafficking or drug cartels, the criminal justice system or correctional institutions (e.g., jails, prisons or penitentiaries)? [ ] YES [ ] NO If YES, please list them:
42. As a general rule, do you follow crime stories in the media?

If YES, what case(s) have you followed and what was your interest?

43. What are your favorite Internet sites, blogs or social media sites?

44. Do you have your own online blog or do you contribute to any blog sites? [ ] YES [ ] NO If YES, without listing names or identifying the blog, please explain the nature of the blog:

46. How often do you tweet, blog, or post comments on the Internet?

[ ] Every day [ ] Almost every day [ ] Several times a week [ ] Several times a month [ ] Never

Miscellaneous questions:

47. Please list any stickers, placards, signs, patches, symbols, and other messages that you display at home or on an automobile, motorcycle, bicycle, bag, backpack, laptop computer, etc.

58. Are you familiar with Jesus Malverde?

60. Do you have any specific views or feelings concerning the legalization of drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana, in this country?

70. Have you or anyone close to you ever had a particularly positive or negative experience involving the police or any law enforcement agency?

78. Have you or a close friend or family member ever been in prison?

80. Have you, a family member or close friend ever had any experience with drug organization activity?

[ ] YES (self) [ ] YES (friends/family) [ ] NO
If YES, without listing names, please explain:

86. Do you, anyone in your household or a close friend own any guns?

If yes, please state your relationship to that person (please do not list any names, but rather respond, for example, “wife,” “friend”), how many and what type(s) of firearm(s).

Police witnesses:

89. Do you believe that police or law enforcement officers are more likely to tell the truth than other witnesses?

90. Do you believe that police or law enforcement officers are more likely to lie than other witnesses?

Cooperating Witnesses:

91. Some government witnesses may testify that they participated in serious crimes, including drug trafficking offenses and violent crimes. These witnesses, who may be referred to during trial as “cooperating witnesses,” may have criminal histories, may have pleaded guilty to crimes and may be testifying pursuant to agreements with the government in hopes that their own sentences will be reduced. Use of these witnesses is lawful.

(a) The testimony of any witness who may have an interest in the outcome of the case including – among other types of witnesses – a cooperating witness, should be carefully scrutinized. Would you be able and willing to fairly and impartially assess the testimony of such a witness, in accordance with the Court’s instructions?

(b) Do you have feelings about a witness seeking a reduced sentence by cooperating that would make it difficult for you fairly and impartially to consider that testimony or render a guilty verdict based on the testimony of such witness?

Electronic surveillance:

92. The law provides that the government can, once it demonstrates probable cause to believe that a crime has been or will be committed, obtain authorization from a court to intercept someone’s emails, text messages, telephone calls and VOIP (voice over internet protocol) calls. Do you have any particular feelings about this law that would affect your ability to evaluate the evidence fairly and impartially?

(c) It is the law that the testimony of a single witness, including a cooperating witness, can be sufficient to convict a defendant of a charged crime, if the jury finds that the testimony of that witness established proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Do you have any opinion or belief about the law or cooperating witnesses that would prevent you from applying this rule of law?


101. Do you have any personal views toward people of Mexican descent that would cause you to doubt your ability to be a fair and impartial juror? (Note: If you would like to discuss or answer this question in a more private setting, please write “private” next this question.)


106. Please review the list of names and organizations on the following pages, and then answer this question: Are you familiar with any of the individuals or organizations named on the list?

[Note:  The list was not attached to the document, I am attempting to acquire a copy,  if  the list  is now completed I will add] 

To review the complete 120 questions, see the Scribd document below.

Accompanying letter to Judge Cogan pertaining to disagreements in introductory language, the document was publicly filed by the government in an joint submission to the judge:

Dear Judge Cogan:

The government and the defendant respectfully submit the attached joint proposed jury questionnaire, pursuant to the Court’s instructions at the status conference on February 15, 2018, and the Court’s order on March 26, 2018. See Dkt. No. 206. The parties have conferred and agree with respect to all of the questions included in the parties’ proposed jury questionnaire (attached hereto as Exhibit A). The parties disagree, however, with regard to the proposed jury questionnaire’s introductory language. To identify the language over which the parties disagree, the government’s proposed language is highlighted in yellow and the defense’s proposed language is highlighted in blue.
Signed and submitted by:

A. Eduardo Balarezo, Esq.
William Purpura, Esq.
Eastern District of New York
271 Cadman Plaza East
Brooklyn, New York 11201
Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section
Criminal Division,
U.S. Department of Justice
Southern District of Florida