By Alana Bleimann
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – After a tedious and long morning, San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Brendon Conroy, Assistant District Attorney Asit Pahwala, and Assistant Public Defender Diamond Ward chose their final 12 jurors and four alternates in the trial of Deshon Marman.
Many prospective jurors filled into Dept. 25, some eager to get started with the proceedings, others frustrated and irritated at having to be present.
This was the final day that ADA Pahwala and APD Ward could learn more about the prospective jurors, ask them questions and present challenges against them.
Because Marman is accused of resisting arrest and trying to grab an officer’s weapon, most of the questions presented to the jurors were centered around the police, including general opinions of police, perceptions of police officers’ roles and duties, and if they have family members or friends who are or have been employed with the SFPD.
“What if a [civilian] witness has a different series of events than the police officer?” and “How would you test their credibility?” were other questions by Ward of prospective jurors.
There is speculation that the police officers that arrested Marman were racially profiling him as a young Black man, thus causing Ward and Pahwala to ask a series of questions about racial profiling and racial bias.
“What is your opinion on racial profiling?” “Do you think it’s right?” are two questions asked of prospective jurors.
Many, if not all, of the prospective jurors answered in the negative, stating that they do not believe racial profiling is ethical.
They were also asked about their support, or lack of support, for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.
Out of the 18 prospective jurors seated, only seven raised their hand stating they support BLM and/or have been to a protest.
By this time, some of the jurors had been excused by either Pahwala or Ward and the courtroom clerk called up new jurors from the seated audience.
Many of the same questions were asked to the new jurors including basic identity questions such as their occupation, marital status, and residency.
One juror expressed sympathy and empathy for Marman, acknowledging that he believed there to be racial bias in the case. However, he claimed that he could judge the facts and evidence of the case fairly and not act on his sympathy. This juror was shortly excused by ADA Pahwala.
Another juror stated how he “has little trouble” with seeing the police as a victim in this case. This case “is not a fair fight,” he stated, but he continued by stating how he can also set aside these feelings and judge the evidence fairly. This juror was also excused by Pahwala.
Finally, another male juror explained how he had “negative interactions with the police” and was once a victim of crime.
“I will not set aside my experiences,” in order to act fairly in this case, he said. This juror consistently directed rude and disrespectful comments toward Ward, Pahwala, and Judge Conroy but claimed he was “happy to fulfill… civil duties.”
When he was asked how he defines credibility and how his experiences would impact his opinion of this case, the juror asked, “Would you prefer all the jurors to be infants?” and refused to share some information with the judge because “I don’t know you.”
This juror was excused by Judge Conroy after a few minutes of questioning and after asking Ward if she had a valid law license in the state of California.
Amid the frustration in some of the jurors’ faces and tones, the final jury was selected by the end of the day.