FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — After nine hours of questioning by Judge Timothy Brooks and the attorneys from both sides of Joshua Duggar’s child pornography case, 12 jurors and four alternates have been selected.
Judge Brooks began the day by reminding the approximately 50 people selected as potential jurors of the significance of serving on a jury. He referenced Thomas Jefferson who said a trial by jury ensures that the people have power in the judicial branch. He told them the jury is the judge of facts.
No one was allowed inside the courtroom today, as they took up the entire courtroom gallery for the potential jurors in order to properly social distance them. All media and other people there to observe the day sat in an overflow room with just the audio from the courtroom available.
Several potential jurors were quickly excused as questioning began. One potential juror knew prosecuting attorney Carley Marshall from law school. Another said he had extremely adverse views of the government and felt he couldn’t remain impartial during the trial because of it.
Another man stood and said he is related to the Duggar family. He said his daughter is currently married to one of the Duggar’s sons. Judge Brooks immediately excused him, saying he thought they had better screening for such connections to a case.
Judge Brooks then read a list of all the people who will potentially be called to testify in the trial. The list did not include Jim Bob Duggar, Josh’s father. Jim Bob was called to testify in Monday’s evidentiary hearing about allowing allegations that Josh molested four underage girls when he was a teenager.
Josh’s siblings, Jill Duggar Dillard and Jedidiah Duggar, were on the list of potential witnesses. Jim and Bobye Holt were also on the list. The Holts are close friends of the Duggars and are also involved in the molestation allegations.
Judge Brooks then spent about an hour questioning the potential jurors on how much they have been exposed to the Duggar family.
He began by asking who is not familiar with the family. He defined “not familiar” as never watching the Duggar’s reality TV show, and never having read an article or posted about the Duggar family. Fourteen potential jurors said they fit this category.
He wanted to know if any of the potential jurors have strong opinions either in favor of or against Josh Duggar or the Duggar family that they felt it would impact their ability to remain impartial. Six potential jurors stood for this.
Next, he asked who had watched the reality TV show. Twenty-eight said they had watched at least one episode of the show. Ten said they had seen or read articles about the Duggars through social media platforms.
Judge Brooks then wanted to learn how many people had read or seen any media about this case specifically. He wanted to know how many people had read about this case through newspapers or online media. He also asked them to answer if the contents in the articles formed their beliefs on the case or not. Eleven potential jurors said they had read about the case and none said that their beliefs were formed.
He then asked who had seen anything about the case on TV news, but for this medium, he wanted them to state if they felt TV coverage is always or not always complete and accurate. Seven said they had seen something on TV and all said they did not believe TV coverage is always complete and accurate.
Judge Brooks made it clear that there will be some child sex abuse materials shown to the jury as part of evidence. He said there will be descriptions and images about body parts or sexual acts that may be difficult for them to see. When he asked if there was anyone in the group who would not be able to handle seeing this evidence, no one raised their hand.
He also asked if any of the potential jurors themselves or if they knew anyone who had been a victim of a crime involving sexual abuse. Four female and three male potential jurors raised their hands.
Next, the lawyers got their chance to talk to the potential jurors for the first and only time throughout this trial. Both the prosecution and defense questioned the jurors about their work experience. The prosecution asked five male potential jurors what their jobs are and what their favorite and least favorite aspects of their job is.
The defense asked how many potential jurors are small business owners, seven said they are currently or were in the past. They were also asked if any of them had employees they had to manage. The defense also asked how many potential jurors worked in areas such as IT security or software development, or if they were technology enthusiasts. Three raised their hands.
Two potential jurors told the defense they had prior experience working in car sales, and four had previous legal experience.
Duggar was the manager at Wholesale Motorcars when investigators found child pornography on his work computer.
Judge Brooks then spent several hours talking with 17 potential jurors in chambers about personal situations. All 12 jurors and the alternates were selected, however, the microphones were not turned back on in the overflow room for this selection. It’s unclear at this time which jurors were selected from the pool.
Jurors are to be back at the courthouse at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday. Judge Brooks did not make a decision on the molestation allegations being used as evidence, but a pre-trial conference is set for 9 a.m. before the trial officially starts.