Jury selection begins in state trial of Paul Pelosi attacker

Jury selection began on Wednesday in San Francisco for the man already convicted in a federal trial of hitting Paul Pelosi with a hammer.

The process was for the state trial against David DePape. Experts said the jury selection process can be the most critical phase of the entire case.

At the San Francisco Hall of Justice, 120 jurors filed into Department 19, signaling the beginning of the state trial for DePape.

The San Francisco District Attorney charged DePape with attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, residential burglary, false imprisonment, threatening the life or serious bodily harm to a public official, and threatening the staff or family of a public official, which was a new charge.


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UCSF School of Law Professor David Levine said while the case is just getting underway, the outcome could be decided by who is selected to be on that jury.

"Experienced lawyers say that picking the jury is the whole thing," said Levine. "Because those are the people who ultimately will make the decision and the choices you make about whether or not to allow someone on the jury can make all the difference in the world."

Due to the high-profile nature of the case, the jurors are facing additional security measures, with deputies staffing a checkpoint just outside the courtroom and enforcing rules including no water bottles.

Inside, jurors faced questions on how much they'd heard about the case and even about their political leanings.

Jurors can be excused for cause if there is some reason they can't serve, but the attorneys will also get to remove some as a peremptory challenge.

Randall Knox, a former prosecutor and now a defense attorney, said each side is trying to pick the jury they think will deliver the verdict they want, but for prosecutors, the bar is lower.

"The prosecution has a video," said Knox. "This is a 21st-century case. They have the crime actually recorded visually. So, the question would be for the defense, can you find jurors that might be more sympathetic to somebody who's got mental illness who believes a bunch of conspiracy theories."

The jury selection process is expected to take several days. There is a hearing scheduled for next Tuesday, the same day DePape is due back in federal court, where he was already convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

DePape's defense team in the federal court case has asked for a new judge and is seeking to halt the hearing where DePape could speak out in court after U.S. District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley did not allow him to address the court last week.

On the same day that a hearing is planned in federal court, a state court will hear whether double jeopardy applies in some charges in this case, meaning the same defendant can't be tried on the same charges twice.