Natrona County Judge Will Call 75 Potential Jurors For Cercy Trial; He Rejects Individual Juror Interviews
Defense attorneys for Casper businessman Tony Cercy, charged with several counts of sexual assault, agreed to call 75 potential jurors, half of what they wanted for his trial scheduled next month.
"I'm not wedded to 150," lead attorney Pamela Mackey told Natrona County District Court Judge Daniel Forgey during an all-day motions hearing on Tuesday.
Cercy goes on trial on Feb. 12 for allegedly sexually assaulting an 20-year-old woman who was passed out in a residence of his at Alcova Lake during the weekend of June 23-25.
He is charged with one count of first-degree sexual assault (rape), one count of second-degree sexual assault (intrusion), and one count of sexual contact "without inflicting sexual intrusion and without causing serious bodily injury."
If convicted on all counts, Cercy faces between seven and 85 years of imprisonment.
The case has generated widespread publicity and finding jurors not exposed to and affected by the publicity will be difficult, hence the need for a pool of 150, Mackey wrote in a motion. Most jury pools in Natrona County District Court have 42 potential jurors.
District Attorney Mike Blonigen responded in a court document that the publicity in this case is above average, but it won't affect the ability of jurors to render a just verdict.
So Blonigen asked for, and Mackey and Forgey agreed, a pool of 75 potential jurors.
Forgey also rejected Mackey's request for individual juror interviews. (Such interviews would consume as much as two days of the scheduled six-day trial.)
She said jurors may not want to discuss their personal views and possible experiences of sexual assault in front of a crowd.
Blonigen responded the court, prosecutors and defense will know more about jurors' views after they complete a questionnaire -- agreed to by both prosecutors and the defense -- and return it to the court by the end of the month.
Forgey said the court can make arrangements for potential jurors to answer those kinds of questions privately.
"We don't have trouble getting a jury," Forgey said.