Jury Selection Complete in John Wiley Price Bribery Trial

Opening statements are set to begin Thursday morning in downtown Dallas

Jury selection is complete in the long-awaited bribery trial of Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price.

Trial proceedings will resume Thursday morning with opening statements in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn.

The trial began Tuesday morning with a pool of 70 prospective jurors. When asked if they had heard about the case, about half of the potential jurors raised their hands.

"Nothing you have read has anything to do with this case," Lynn said. "This case will be decided in this room."

The judge warned potential jurors the trial could last until June.

"That's very, very difficult for a large percentage of the population to serve on a jury like that," said former U.S. Attorney Matthew Orwig, who is not involved with the Price trial.

Orwig said prospective jurors with some knowledge of the case must be able to exclude bias and limit their decision to evidence heard in the courtroom. He said an impartial panel in Dallas is possible despite heavy publicity about the case.

"You do have the concern of a fair jury," he said. "At the same time, people have the right to be tried by a jury of their peers."

Price is accused of taking nearly $1 million in bribes for his influence in Dallas County business. The investigation first became public with raids on his home and office in 2011. He was indicted in 2014. He is also charged with income tax evasion.

"If you get a good jury, you have that much more of an indication that you have strong odds to win the case," said defense attorney Victor Vital, who is also not participating in the Price trial. "The job of the skillful lawyer is to unearth those people who have proclivities or inclinations against their positions or clients."

Both Vital and Orwig represented clients involved in the public corruption trial of Dallas City Council Member Don Hill in 2009. That trial lasted three months. Hill was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

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