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Connecticut’s jury selection process is unique, since attorneys are allowed to interview each prospective juror individually. There are a lot more interesting things to watch in court, but sometimes voir dire, as it’s called, can be entertaining.
A 30-something man who was interviewed last week for the upcoming manslaughter trial of Dirren Conyers was bluntly charming in his responses. Asked whether he had any feelings about the criminal justice system, he said, “Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.”
Prosecutor Christa L. Baker asked if he had any problems with the state. He said, “They charge too much in taxes.”
Speaking of taxes, he had listed himself as “unemployed” on a questionnaire, but when asked what he does with his time, he said he performs “side work” now and then.
“So I guess you’re not completely unemployed?” asked defense attorney Tina Sypek-D’Amato.
“I guess you could say that,” he admitted.
The man also conceded he had been arrested when he was younger. He said he was hanging out with the wrong people. He said he had pleaded guilty after his attorney told him what it might be like for an African-American man to go on trial.
“The lawyer said, ‘There’s probably going to be nobody of your kind on the jury,’ ’’ the man said.
Conyers, the man on trial, is also black, but he won’t have this black man on his jury panel, since the man was excused after the state exercised one of its peremptory challenges. Baker didn’t have to explain why she wanted the man excused. Both sides are allowed to dismiss a certain number of potential jurors without stating a reason
Benita Christian was the subject of a Sunday story in The Day about New London’s Thames River Apartments, otherwise known as the Crystal Avenue high-rises. She was one of 18 people who signed up to testify about her living...