I applaud his attempt, but how exactly does one make sure the jury doesn’t have anti-Semitic views?
If you were an anti-Semitic juror, wouldn’t you keep it quiet so that you could try to destroy the Jews? Does this judge actually think he can ask people if they have negative views and they will admit it?
Most people who are anti-Semitic don’t even know they are until they are inconvenienced in some way by a Jewish issue—i.e. Shabbat, Kashrut, holidays.
The federal judge in the classified information case against two former AIPAC staffers wants to probe prospective jurors about possible anti-Semitic views.
Judge T.S. Ellis III of the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., also asked prosecutors and defense lawyers for opinions on banning peremptory challenges to prospective jurors that appear to be based on religion.
Ellis’ requests add two more potentially groundbreaking legal wrinkles in an already unprecedented case. And they signal that the trial will likely raise the specter of dual loyalty to Israel and the United States.
Steve Rosen, the former foreign policy chief of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and Keith Weissman, its former Iran analyst, were indicted under a never-used 1917 Espionage Act statute that criminalizes the receipt and dissemination of national defense information.
The indictment alleges that the two former lobbyists obtained such information on Iran and terrorism, and relayed it to journalists, colleagues, Israeli diplomats and other U.S. government officials.
Abbe Lowell, Rosen’s lawyer, was pleased by the announcements.
“In a case like this which concerns the pro-Israel lobby, defendants who are themselves Jewish, events in the Middle East [and] the times we live in, it’s very appropriate that the judge should be sensitive and ask us to be sensitive to a jury selection device that might minimize” the risks of selecting jurors with an anti-Jewish bias, he said.
Weissman’s attorney, Baruch Weiss, agreed.
“We’re incredibly grateful that the judge’s sense of fairness has pushed him to ensure that the jury is not tainted by anti-Semitism in a case involving disclosures by employees of AIPAC,” he said.
Both announcements, made during an otherwise routine scheduling portion of a hearing last week, surprised lawyers. Ellis previously had ruled out the kind of written jury questionnaire that could weed out prospective jurors with an anti-Jewish bias. And the U.S. Supreme Court has restricted peremptory challenges — the ancient procedure through which a lawyer can eliminate a juror without explaining why — only in cases when it is clear that such challenges are race or gender-based. — jta