Missoula County Coverage

Feb 8, 2013 7:44 PM by Irina Cates - KPAX News

Jury selection starts in Johnson rape trial

MISSOULA - Friday, jury selection began in the high-profile rape trial of suspended University of Montana quarterback Jordan Johnson.

Less than half of the 400 potential jurors who were originally called were required to appear, and jury selection will continue on Monday.

Of 160 prospective jurors on Friday, some were excused before jury selection for several reasons, including being weeded out through the attorneys' questionnaire.

Fifteen people didn't show up and others were excused for various reasons during the selection process.

Many prospective jurors were familiar with the allegations against Johnson, but at least two didn't know anything about the case.

The Missoula County Attorney's Office brought in two outside lawyers to help, Joel Thompson from the Montana Attorney General's Office and Adam Duerk, a private attorney in Missoula.

"Honesty is the best police here. It's the best way we can get the most fair group of jurors," Thompson said.

Johnson's defense attorneys are David Paoli and Kirsten Pabst, both from Missoula. Jury selection was at the Holiday Inn because the courthouse doesn't have a room big enough for all the jurors in this case.

Many of the jurors were asked their opinions on date rape and their attitudes about rape.

Johnson is accused of raping a woman a year ago while the two were watching a movie at her house.

His trial was originally scheduled to last three weeks, but today the judge said it will be 11 days.

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