Opening arguments in the criminal trial of ex-Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) are not likely to begin until next week, with jury selection in the case now scheduled to continue into Thursday.
U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis preliminarily eliminated 14 jurors Wednesday from the nearly 100-member pool, for reasons varying from personal hardship to previously-formed opinions on the case.
The remaining jurors began individual interviews in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, fielding questions from Ellis about questionnaires each would-be juror completed Tuesday.
“It’s taking longer than I anticipated,— Ellis said of the juror selection process, before a midday recess. He said he planned to dismiss one-half of the jury pool until Thursday morning.
It is not clear what questions were included on the questionnaire. Ellis ordered the document, which includes questions about how each juror views the court system and whether they are familiar with witnesses scheduled to testify, sealed in court records.
Jefferson is charged in a 16-count indictment with violating federal law by offering and accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to promote business ventures in West African nations.
The former House lawmaker appeared in court Wednesday along with his wife, Andrea, and several of his daughters.