The trial of radical Islamic cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri, the latest alleged terrorist to be tried in the federal court system rather than via military commission, is rapidly moving forward in New York. Jury selection was completed this past Monday, when eight men and four women were selected to serve as the jury for the trial expected to last about five weeks.
“U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest and lawyers for both the government and Abu Hamza settled on a jury of 12 and four alternates after several hours of questions intended to expose potential bias. Among the jurors selected were a retired bus dispatcher, a postal worker and a doctor originally from Sarajevo.”
Jury selection is often viewed as one of the most critical elements in determining whether a defendant will receive a fair trial. Put simply, a biased jury will almost certainly result in an unjust outcome for the defendant. With good reason, this is one of the most frequently cited concern cited by those against holding traditional trials in high-profile terrorism cases.