Speed Of Potential Jury Selection Surprises Prosecutor In Edwards Case
NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ The speed of prospective juror selection in the racketeering trial of Gov. Edwin Edwards has surprised the prosecutor who says he thinks a jury could be empaneled by the end of next week.
In two days of court proceedings, 14 people have been selected for the 52- person pool that will produce the U.S. District Court jury that will hear the case. Nine were chosen for the jury pool Wednesday.
″I’m really surprised that we haven’t had more people who haven’t formed an opinion,″ U.S. Attorney John Volz said Wednesday.
″If it keeps going the way it is going, we should have a jury by the end of next week.″
″Fourteen persons in a day and a half? That’s awfully fast,″ said defense attorney Jack Martzell, representing Edwards’ brother, Marion, who is accused with the governor and six others of illegally earning $10 million in a scheme involving the certification of hospital corporations.
Jury selection continued today before U.S. District Judge Marcel Livaudais, who told the defendants Tuesday they need not be present for the two weeks it probably would take to pick a jury.
Accused with Edwards, 58, and his 57-year-old brother are their nephew, Charles Isbell, 40, of Baton Rouge; Ronald Falgout, 45, of Baton Rouge; James J. Wyllie Jr., 36, of Metairie; Philip S. Brooks, 48, of New Orleans; Gus Mijalais, 51, of Shreveport; and Perry Segura, 55, of New Iberia.
All have pleaded innocent.
A 53-page indictment accuses the eight men of secretly forming hospital corporations, using Gov. Edwards’ and Falgout’s connections to get them certified by the state, and then selling them to big hospital chains that were able to recoup most of their expenses through a federal program.
If convicted on all racketeering, mail and wire fraud charges, the Edwards brothers, Falgout, Wyllie and Brooks could be imprisoned for 265 years and fined a total of $270,000.
The maximum punishment for the others, if they are convicted, would be only a little less severe.