FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA., OCT. 10 -- Prosecutors and defense attorneys in the 2 Live Crew obscenity case failed to pick a jury today and will continue their efforts Thursday, drawing panelists from a pool of registered voters that is predominantly white, middle-aged and female.
The defense is claiming that the prospective jurors do not adequately represent Broward County and cannot judge a black, inner-city rap group. The state is calling the racial issue a red herring that distracts from the issue at hand: Whether the rappers performed an obscene show in June at a Hollywood, Fla., nightclub.
Preliminary questioning of the first 25 prospective jurors -- three of whom were black -- showed that while most had heard of 2 Live Crew, almost none knew about the specific language of the group's songs or of the free-speech issue on which the defense plans to focus.
"Where," asked Bruce Rogow, attorney for defendant Luther "Luke" Campbell, 2 Live Crew's leader, "are the 18-year-old black males I want on the jury?"
Rogow has petitioned the judge to declare the state's jury selection process unconstitutional in this case, because an essential element in deciding on obscenity is measuring the alleged crime against community standards. Broward County Judge June L. Johnson said she would rule on his motion once a jury is seated.
Johnson said she would probably make the jurors stay in a hotel once the trial begins because of the extensive publicity the case has received.
She also ruled today that prosecutors can't refer to children during the trial because the band members are charged only with performing in front of adults.
Three prospective jurors were dismissed today when they told Johnson personal problems prevented them from serving on a sequestered jury for more than a week.
Many panelists told the judge they did not want to be on the jury.
One prospective juror said she could not tolerate the presence of so many members of the media, while another said she would have difficulty being objective.
The dismissals winnowed the number of potential jurors to 17, but attorneys for both sides agreed that it will probably take at least another day to settle on a panel.