After two days of voir dire involving a panel of 100 prospective jurors, we have a jury in the case of the three Somali Minnesotans charged with seeking to support ISIS and related offenses. The jury pool for federal court in Minneapolis draws on citizens in the southern part of Minnesota, including the Twin Cities but extending well beyond them to counties outstate. The prospective jurors called for this case were mostly white; the sixteen jurors (including alternates) ultimately picked are all white. Star Tribune reporter Stephen Montemayor injects race into the case through a quote from one of the jurors during voir dire in his article on yesterday’s proceedings, In the tweet below Montemayor speaks in his own voice on Twitter.
We have a jury in Minneapolis ISIL recruit trial. 16: 8 men, 8 women, all white. Opening statements tomorrow.
— Stephen Montemayor (@smontemayor) May 10, 2016
What’s race got to do with it? Absolutely nothing. Judge Davis himself interrogated the jury panel regarding their attitudes toward minority groups and interactions with members of ethnic minorities. (Judge Davis is black.)
The three defendants are black, but they are also Muslim. Indeed, the charges reflect their ardent Muslim faith. Islam lies at the heart of the case, but I don’t think there are any Muslim jurors either.
Race has less to do with the case than sex. The three defendants are also all men charged with seeking to join the jihad with ISIS in Syria. Jihad skews male. Montemayor dutifully notes that the jury is evenly balanced between men and women.
Assistant United States Attorney Andrew Winter will lay out the government’s case against the three men in the course of his opening this morning as will counsel for the three defendants. The preview of the government’s case is likely to highlight evidence that has remained under wraps to the public. If you’ve been with me so far, please stay tuned.