OPELIKA, AL (WSFA) - Day two of jury selection in Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard's ethics trial included more questioning of potential jurors and ended with 52 people remaining in the pool. The defense and prosecution will take turns striking the remaining jurors on Wednesday until they reach just 16. Judge Jacob Walker said the 16 will be made up of 12 jurors and four alternates.
The only time the two sides will argue during Wednesday's proceedings is if there is what is termed a "Batson" challenge. That's an objection to the validity of a peremptory challenge, on grounds that the other party used it to exclude a potential juror based on race, ethnicity, or sex.
Hubbard, 54, was indicted in October 2014 on 23 felony ethics charges. After a lengthy legal battle by the defense to have the case dismissed, the trial is scheduled to start early next week.
About 60 jurors remained Monday night and each was called back Tuesday for attorneys on both sides to question. The prosecution focused its questions on whether or not media coverage would impact each potential juror's ability to be fair. Most responded they could put anything they had read or heard aside and focus on the facts presented in court.
On Monday, while being questioned by the defense, about half of the potential jurors said they had a negative opinion about politicians in general. The defense followed up Tuesday, asking many of the jurors if they could put those feelings about politicians aside and give Hubbard a fair trial. Most said they could.
One juror said he voted for Hubbard, and he's concerned his support for the speaker could make it difficult to be fair. However, he later told the judge he could put those things aside and focus on the evidence and testimony in the case.
At least one juror mentioned he is a Democrat but said that wouldn't affect his decisions. Another said he was concerned about how his decision might impact his business and business relationships.
The potential jurors have been instructed to not talk to anyone about the case, not do research online and not post about it on social media. They will return Wednesday morning.
On the first day of jury selection Monday, about 30 jurors were dismissed or excused for various reasons, like other obligations and medical issues.
For the first time, the defense gave a glimpse into a possible strategy, painting a picture of Hubbard as a businessman who happens to be a politician and was sometimes "pushy" but didn't commit a crime.