SOURCE: The Post and Courier- September 20, 2016, Andrew Knapp  |  Read entire article

In an unusual move, sheriff’s deputies have been tasked with hand-delivering summonses to 500 prospective jurors before the murder trial of former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager.

On Friday, the summonses and a questionnaire will start going out to Charleston County residents whose names were chosen at random, a court order stated. If deputies cannot serve the paperwork in person, it can be distributed by mail — the most common method of delivery.

The potential jurors must fill out their questionnaires within five days and return them to the clerk of court. If they don’t, the deputies will follow up “to gain compliance,” Circuit Judge Clifton Newman said in the order.

Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon said Wednesday that serving jury summonses is just one function of his agency.

“Certainly in a serious case like this,” he said, “you want to make sure people get the jury summons.”

Slager, 34, will be tried Oct. 31 in the April 2015 shooting death of Walter Scott. The two got into a struggle after a traffic stop, and the officer said Scott grabbed his Taser. Scott, 50, got off the ground and started running again as Slager opened fire, hitting him five times.

Slager was jailed three days later, shortly after video of the shooting emerged publicly.

Questionnaires will help the judge and attorneys decide whether prospective jurors are qualified to hear the case. The one in Slager’s case, for example, asks people about their beliefs about law enforcement, government and the news media.

People 65 years old or older can be excused promptly by the clerk of court. Others may also have good reasons for not participating.

Those remaining must show up at the courthouse for the trial and go through the jury selection process, when they will be polled about their biases and beliefs. Newman wrote in the order that the court clerk should find hotel accommodations for the jurors starting Nov. 1.

The trial is expected to last weeks.


SOURCE: The Post and Courier- September 20, 2016  |  Read full article on