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Blankenship trial start just three weeks away

BECKLEY, W.Va. — With just three weeks before former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship’s trial is set to begin, prosecutors and defense attorneys are submitting final items for the court’s consideration, such as additional questions for the jury and jury instructions.

Defense attorneys filed a motion Tuesday asking for voir dire (questioning of prospective jurors) to be conducted of each person individually and without the public or press present.

 In the questionnaires distributed to 300 prospective jurors, they were told their responses would be kept confidential. The defense argues that follow-up questions to those responses could not be asked in open court.

Private questioning will also “insulate the jurors from one another’s prejudicial comments.”

“As demonstrated by the venue surveys submitted with the motion to transfer, some members of the venue will express strong opinions about Mr. Blankenship and this case. They should not be permitted to taint other prospective jurors.”

Also, the defense said jurors are far more likely to express their actual opinions or concerns in a private setting.

Both prosecutors and defense attorneys are allotted a number of “strikes” to rule out jurors for the trial, but defense attorneys are requesting 10 additional peremptory challenges, meaning they could strike a total of 20 jurors without challenge from prosecutors…


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