Race of jury and attorneys examined in Deedy trial

Race of jury and attorneys examined in Deedy trial
Published: Jul. 11, 2013 at 10:14 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 12, 2013 at 3:10 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Deedy verdict will be dissected in the legal community. Today we look at the 12 people and two alternates tasked with the tough decision.

Many attorneys will tell you jury selection is an important part of the trial.

We can't identify the jurors but we can say the Deedy jury is made up of nine men and five women.

"As a generalization I think women are harder to convince," said Megan Kau, Attorney

Seven of the jurors appear to be younger than 40 years old and the other seven look older than 40.

"Younger people are more familiar with the places that are mentioned, they've been there before, they know the lingo," said Kau.

Then there is race. Eight look local or Asian while six appear to pull Caucasian features.

"I pay attention to the very minute details of every juror who comes through the door," said Kau.

Megan Kau has tried 30 jury cases in the past six years as both a prosecutor and defense attorney. She believes race, age and gender all play a part, not just with the jury, victim and defendant but also with the lawyers involved. There are three Caucasian attorneys defending Deedy.

"Local people they stand up for local people, they want to help local people and if you have three Caucasian attorneys trying to help a haole boy that is not from here, doesn't live here, has no ties here, was here for a very short time and then hurts a local boy that can be damaging," said Kau.

Especially if they can't relate to the jury, which she says Deedy Attorney Karl Blanke, who is from Virginia, may have stumbled on today.

"The defense attorney was just cross examining one of the witnesses and to him the testimony came out that Kollin Elderts is speaking another language but we all know that he's speaking pidgin. He's speaking English but its pidgin," said Kau.

"Generally speaking there are racial biases, automatic racial biases that happen without our awareness that manifest in law and legal decision making," said Justin Levinson, University of Hawaii at Manoa, William S. Richardson School of Law Professor.

Professor Levinson wrote the book "Implicit Racial Bias Across the Law" and is an expert in juries. Studies show in general race plays a part but the hope is the jury's main factor is the facts.

"We hope that in this situation there are competent attorneys on both sides and the actual legal arguments will prevail," said Prof. Levinson.

Also of note Deputy Prosecutor Chasid Sapolu worked for Judge Karen Ahn in 2010. Judge Ahn is presiding over the Deedy trial. We're told it is not a conflict of interest because enough time had passed and the Deedy case had not happened yet.

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