Potential Jurors Questioned on Bias during Jury Selection for Upcoming Murder Trial

By Anna Olsen

ALAMEDA, CA – Lying under oath, circumstantial evidence and prejudice were among the concepts discussed in jury selection here in in Alameda County Superior Court Monday for the upcoming murder trial of William Hommert and Trevor L. Simpson, charged in the shooting death of Lance Barr on Oct. 20.

“Enhancements allege that Mr. Hommert intentionally discharged the firearm, resulting in death or great bodily injury and that Mr. Simpson was armed with the firearm during the commission,” stated Judge James Cramer.

During the Monday afternoon jury selection hearing, the prosecution began by questioning the jurors.

“Do you believe that someone could testify in a criminal case, take an oath to tell the truth, and lie?” the prosecution asked, and most jurors replied with something like, “I believe that it is possible.”

The prosecution continued by asking, “And when you are evaluating a person’s credibility to decide whether or not they might be lying, what sorts of things do you rely on?”

“I’ll look at their body language,” replied one potential juror.

Another potential juror expressed concern regarding using body language as a method to determine whether or not an individual is guilty, noting, “I just wanted to make a comment that signs of nervousness don’t necessarily indicate guilt.”

Judge James Cramer responded by stating, “You’re absolutely right. It’s common sense, it’s a list of factors I will read when the time comes.”

Additionally, the concept of “circumstantial evidence” (actions and conduct of an individual) was discussed in court as a legal method of identifying the intent of an individual and facts of the case.

Near the end of the jury selection process, potential bias and prejudice against the accused were discussed.

One potential juror was asked whether or not they “are comfortable providing the verdict of this case based upon evidence only and putting aside sympathy, biases and prejudice?”

One potential juror responded that in her career as a nurse she has “to look at the person as a whole picture and sometimes it’s difficult to not take into consideration their life circumstances.”

The trial will proceed this week.

About The Author

Anna Olsen is a recent UC Berkeley graduate originally from Seattle, WA. She double majored in law and global studies and plans to head to law school after taking a gap year to become a juvenile defense attorney.

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