Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ team arrives at court in St. Louis
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens watched Thursday as his attorneys scrutinized potential jurors for his criminal trial next week.
Greitens, who was joined by two state troopers, arrived Thursday morning at the St. Louis courthouse for the first day of jury selection. The Republican governor, who faces a felony charge of invasion of privacy, is accused of taking a photograph of a woman while she was bound and partly nude without her consent in an effort to keep her from speaking about an extramarital affair.
Attorneys for both sides will choose from a pool of 160 potential jurors after determining whether they can be impartial about the case, which has dominated Missouri headlines for months.
Jury selection was originally slated to take place Thursday and Friday, but it'll likely stretch into next week. The trial was scheduled to start on Monday.
The judge, prosecutors and Greitens’ attorneys had planned to work through 80 prospective jurors in the first day, but spoke to only 42 over the course of the day.
Of those 42 potential jurors, 17 will be asked to return to the courthouse for more vetting next week. The rest were excluded for a variety of reasons, including medical hardship and voicing negative opinions of the governor.
Greitens arrived at the courthouse through a back entry and was greeted with a handshake and hug by a local law officer. The governor, who often wears jeans at the Capitol, was wearing a suit and tie.
Greitens could be seen smiling as he entered the courtroom and huddled with his lawyers. Later, he joined his attorneys in making notes on questionnaires filled out by potential jurors and listened attentively.
If Greitens is convicted, he could face up to four years in prison. The governor's political future will remain in doubt even if he's acquitted in this case; he also faces a felony charge of computer tampering after an investigation by Attorney General Josh Hawley into the governor's charity.
Defense attorney Scott Rosenblum asked the potential jurors where they get news, whether they had formed an opinion and if they were aware of uncharged conduct or of the possibility of impeachment proceedings.
One juror, who was struck, said she had a negative opinion of Greitens based on a campaign ad in 2016.
Another potential juror who was struck said she thought Greitens wasn’t truthful, but she said she could set that aside and decide the case on what was presented in court.
Rosenblum argued that she couldn’t.
“Before he would take the stand, you’ve already formed an opinion on him,” Rosenblum said. “You already determined without hearing a word he might not be truthful.”
That interaction was one the first indications from Greitens' legal team that the embattled governor might take the stand in the trial. His attorneys have said that's yet to be decided.
Ronald Sullivan, a Harvard Law School professor who is assisting prosecutors in the case, argued that jurors who have opinions of Greitens but say they can set them aside should not be struck.
He said the attorneys need to find jurors who can credibly “in good faith ... set aside previous knowledge.” He said they would need to “exclude the entire state” if the judge used the defense’s standard.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.