Week One in Hastings Retrial Ends, Remains in Jury Selection

LITTLE ROCK, AR – Day five has come and gone in the manslaughter trial for a former Little Rock Police Department (LRPD) Officer.

The first week of the State v. Josh Hastings saw the court seat 6 jurors only to end Friday (9/20) with one less, continuing the jury selection process into week two.

Another issue brought into focus on Friday was stressing to each juror that self-defense would not be allowed as a defense for Hastings.

Hastings is accused of recklessly causing the death of a 15-year-old burglary suspect in August of 2012.

Pulaski County 5th Division Circuit Court Judge Wendell Griffen called jury selection a very deliberate process as he tried to leave the courtroom with prospective jurors that can come in with a clear mind and simply follow instructions.

Attorney’s on each side prepared the prospective jurors for Judge Griffen to likely instruct the jurors that because of the charge of manslaughter, the defense could not be self-defense.

“The court has said that to some jurors and it’s true, the defense is not available,” confirmed defense attorney Bill James. “But again, an affirmative defense is not necessary if you didn’t do anything wrong or if your charged with reckless conduct. All we have to do is prove what [Hastings] did was reasonable under the circumstances.”

Judge Griffen says they want to avoid letting anyone slip by that could nullify this whole process.

UALR William H. Bowen School of Law Professor of Criminal Law, Felecia Epps explained the reasoning.

“Our system is set up to avoid those situations to make sure that the jury and jurors who are sworn will actually follow the instructions of the Judge and do as they are instructed under the law to do,” the former Military attorney and Judge Advocate said.

All week we’ve watched as one by one jurors make their way into the courtroom. They’ve come and gone as Judge Griffen anticipated needing more to pull from.

Friday more than half a dozen jurors were sent away primarily for having a prior bias either way coming in.

The court has seated five official jurors in the first week and court officials say it’s likely the other seven won’t be seated until sometime in the beginning of the second week when they will finally seat and swear in the jury.

Those inside the courtroom admit it can be tough on everyone.

“Obviously it makes all the attorneys tired but the biggest concern is the jury,” explained James. “You want to keep the jury — you want them to be alert and it’s tough to sit and do nothing for several days. That’s the biggest concern and hopefully they’ll get rest over the weekend and come in fresh on Monday and be ready to go.”

State Prosecuting Attorney John Johnson told the court the first set of witnesses in the case are on standby. It’s expect they won’t be heard from however until, at the earliest, after lunch Monday.

The Prosecution continues to follow standard procedure by not commenting on the case.

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