A federal judge will not limit the time used to examine prospective jurors during jury selection on May 6 in the trial against three anti-nuclear weapons activists accused of breaking into the Y-12 National Security Complex last summer and vandalizing a uranium storage building.
As previously reported, attorneys for the defendants—Greg Boertje-Obed, Megan Rice, and Michael Walli—had asked for six hours for jury selection because of the publicity the unprecedented security breach has generated.
But in a response filed Monday, federal prosecutors objected. Assistant U.S. attorneys Jeffrey E. Theodore and Melissa M. Kirby said extensive pretrial publicity does not preclude an impartial jury.
The U.S. District Court in Knoxville has had other trials, including one recently, that involved nuclear protesters at Y-12, Theodore and Kirby said. They said those cases also generated a fair amount of pretrial publicity but did not require extra time for jury selection.
A previous District Court order had called for 90 minutes for the defense and 60 minutes for the government during jury examination.
In an order filed Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Amul R. Thapar said jury examination and selection is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Monday, May 6, in Courtroom 1A. A list of potential jury questions are due by 5 p.m. Friday. Proposed jury instructions are also due then.
During a Tuesday hearing, defense lawyers and Thapar discussed the possibility the courtroom might be filled with 70 potential jurors during jury selection on May 6, so supporters and reporters might have to watch the proceedings on closed-circuit television.
Boertje-Obed, Rice, and Walli are accused of cutting through three fences in a high-security Protected Area at Y-12 before dawn on July 28 and splashing human blood and spray-painting slogans on the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility, where most of the nation’s bomb-grade uranium is stored. The three face charges of property depredation, property destruction, and injuring, destroying, or contaminating national defense premises with the intent to interfere with the U.S. national defense.