Jury selection continues downtown on the off chance that the Night Owl will actually go on trial -- even though Jesse "I'm Sure That I Speak for Everyone When I Say ..." Jackson has ordered both sides to work out a plea bargain.

How about Jesse, riding in like Roy Rogers on a big golden palomino to make sure justice is done? You don't suppose all those TV cameras had anything to do with it, do you? Jesse must see this as another hostage negotiation. Yet it's ironic he waited until now to say Marion Barry shouldn't run for mayor again, since Jesse could have easily run for mayor himself -- and teased everybody, including Barry, with his Hamlet candidacy. And how about Walter Fauntroy hogging a piece of the statesman pie, by telling both sides to reach a plea agreement? It's one thing for Jesse Jackson to tell the Night Owl when to jump, but for Fauntroy to do it, whew.

Anyway, until they all go to Camp David and sign the accords, this trial is still on, and they need a jury.

So far the process has crawled, understandably, considering Step 1 was to fill out a 69-question form, and for most questions, if you answered "yes," you had to write an explanation. You can get a five-million-dollar bank loan in this city for 35 questions -- no essays.

After the questionnaire come the interviews by the judge and the attorneys, to determine the fitness of potential jurors. Earlier this week two people were excused for discrepancies in their written and oral answers. On question No. 62, each said "no" in response to a sub-question: Have you ever been charged with a crime? In interviews both acknowledged the answers were misleading -- one had been charged with burglary, the other with theft and possession of marijuana. I know it's a long form, but being arrested is something you should remember.

It's going to be hard to get a jury, maybe even harder than it was to get a jury for Ollie North; they needed 12 people who hadn't heard of either North or Iran-contra, and had to go into a cave to find them. How deep under the District of Columbia will they have to dig to find a person who doesn't hold a strong opinion about Marion Barry?

Who is the ideal juror?

Cathy Hughes for the defense.

Stan Parris for the prosecution.

(Neither side is sure where it'd want Effi Barry -- probably in Cannes.)

The Night Owl, as he brazenly said, is looking for "one juror saying, 'I'm not going to convict Marion Barry, I don't care what you say.' "

A holdout. A renegade.

Someone who distrusts authority.

Someone on a mission to be Barry's Galahad.

"Defense is looking for a stubborn oddball, someone who could find a reasonable doubt that the sky is blue," said a lawyer unconnected with the case.

Maybe another night owl who'll sympathize with how it feels to be lonely in the lean hours. Maybe a religious zealot who's heard Barry attesting his faith, and believes in forgiveness. Maybe a contentious libertarian. (Maybe one of the 3,500,000 Barry has put on the District payroll.) Maybe one of the most gullible: someone who trusts an OMB estimate, someone holding Donald Trump's junk bonds.

To find this juror you don't need 69 questions.

Any one of these will do:

How cool was James Dean?

How many times have you been visited by UFOs in the past month?

Do you believe the Abscam defendants, Lyndon LaRouche and Zsa Zsa Gabor were entrapped by the government? And do you sometimes sense the CIA bouncing secret messages through the fillings of your teeth?

Isn't it possible, at least in the abstract, that the world might be flat?

Do you believe other mayors smoke crack seven days a week and get away with it?

The correct answers for the defense are: very; 12; yes; yes; sure; yes.

The prosecution, on the other hand, doesn't want iconoclasts, doesn't want anybody who'll say, "Yes, but ... "

Another lawyer unconnected with the case said, "They want a bunch of sheep, and one 40-to-45-year-old single mother -- a responsible employee holding her family together -- who'll be the leader for conviction. They have the mayor on videotape. So they want people who can go home to their families and neighbors with a conviction -- not people wedded financially or emotionally to Barry; this is critical."


No zealots. No malcontents.

(Not that it would hurt finding 12 women who had shot their husbands for philandering.)

Again, 69 questions are too many.

Any one of these will do:

What do you do when the clerk at Baskin-Robbins says, "I know the sign says we have 31 flavors, but we're all out of everything but vanilla"?

What did you wear to work yesterday?

How do you feel when you're standing at the Pentagon Metro stop among many uniformed soldiers?

It's hot in here, isn't it?

The correct answers for the prosecution are: "Excuse me, I'm sorry, vanilla will be fine"; gray suit, blue button-down shirt, dark socks and shoes, maroon tie (watch out for bow ties, vaguely independent and not to be trusted); safe; "It's my fault. I apologize. Would you like me to ask the judge to turn up the air conditioner?"