U.S. District Court Judge John Garrett Penn decided yesterday to allow lawyers for Mary Treadwell, accused of defrauding the federal government and low-income tenants of thousands of dollars, to have a consultant sit at the defense table to help them select jurors.
Penn ruled, however, that John Johnson of Seattle, who has described himself as a jury and trial consultant, could not ask the potential jurors any questions. Prosecutors opposed the direct inclusion of Johnson in the jury selection process.
Johnson has said he has helped lawyers pick jurors in more than 50 cases, but declined further comment on his work on the advice of Treadwell's chief defense attorney, John W. Nields.
Penn, two of Treadwell's attorneys and three prosecutors continued to question potential jurors yesterday. The judge hopes to have a 12-member jury and six alternates picked by tomorrow and start hearing the lawyers' opening arguments on Monday.
The indictment against Treadwell, the former head of P.I. Properties, a defunct real estate affiliate of the disbanded self-help group known as Youth Pride Inc., alleges that she used P.I. Properties to defraud the federal government and low-income tenants of thousands of dollars to pay her personal expenses and to finance private, profit-making ventures.
She is charged with conspiracy, fraud, tax evasion and making false statements to federal officials, but has denied the charges.