The Latest: R. Kelly Sex Trafficking Trial

Posted at 7:18 PM, August 11, 2021 and last updated 9:38 AM, August 13, 2021

 By Julia Jenaé , Court TV Legal Correspondent

Day 2 – Jury Selection Continues

Tuesday, Aug. 10

Day Two of jury selection ends with the judge announcing there are enough qualified jurors for the attorneys to begin using their strikes. They’ll begin selecting/eliminating from a pool of 50 in the morning. Final jury panel (12 jurors 6 alternates) will be sworn in on Aug 18 before opening statements.

Judge and attorneys weren’t certain of peremptory totals and order (they believe it’s 10 for defense and 6 for government, each round the government can strike one and the defense two) but Judge said she’ll confirm using the chart in the morning.

One potential juror was excused after admitting she’d researched ‘racketeering’ and went “down a rabbit hole” with it.  Others admitted to researching Robert Sylvester Kelly’s music after getting their questionnaire, but didn’t face the same excuse once they promised not to let it impact their ability to be fair and impartial.

Before adjourning, attorneys asked the judge to tell the jurors that parties aren’t allowed to speak to them, it’s not that they are being rude. This seems necessary, as the parties have said no more than “good morning” to potential jurors throughout the entire jury selection. All questions came through Judge Ann Donnelly.

Kelly wore a white paper mask here and there at the defense table during individual voir dire. Unclear why he continued to alternate between wearing one and not. He continued to show high interest in the paperwork, presumably questionnaire copies, as the judge questioned potential jurors one-on-one.

Courtroom Highlights
  • Jury selection continues to move at a rather swift pace, individual questioning last five to ten minutes per person.
  • News of Governor Cuomo’s resignation resonates through the Brooklyn courthouse at a delayed pace because journalists and spectators alike aren’t permitted to have electronics.
  • Several potential jurors who were qualified note they have a law enforcement background or close relatives in law enforcement
    • One woman has a cousin with Homeland Security. Judge Donnelly tells her reps from Homeland Security will be testifying in this trial, and ensures the potential juror can still be fair and impartial.
  • ‘I believe I can Fly’ song mentioned twice as the one thing they know about the defendant
  • Court clears 14 jurors for Day 2 of jury selection, 4 excused and 10 retained.
  • Bill Cosby and Jeffrey Epstein’s names raised several times during RKelly jury selection.
    • One potential juror said he knew a Cosby family member, and another two followed the Epstein scandal closely. All three agreed they could set aside their feelings and were qualified for the next round.

  • An animated Robert Sylvester Kelly appears very involved in his case’s paperwork at the defense table Tuesday. He’s intently writing and reading paperwork while having emphatic discussions with his newly hired lawyer, Nichole Blank Becker, about the document.

 

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Day 1 – Jury Selection

Monday, Aug. 9, 2021

  • Jury selection begins at 9 a.m. ET in a federal courthouse in Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • Judge Ann Donnelly individually questions more than 30 potential jurors and dismisses about 13
  • 3 potential jurors say they cannot presume Kelly innocent
  • 2 potential jurors didn’t know who RKelly was before summons
  • At least two women excused due to personal experiences with sexual abuse
  • Donnelly adds last-minute question for potential jurors about issues or concerns with same-sex relations/sexual activity per defense request after prosecutors file motion saying they intend to introduce evidence of uncharged acts allegedly involving two teen boys
  • Donnelly asks each potential juror if they know three additional witnesses whose names were not included in the questionnaire; only one person says yes
  • WATCH: 8/9/21 R. Kelly Sex Trafficking Trial: Jury Selection Day 1

VIEW: R. Kelly Legal Timeline

VIEW: R. Kelly NYC Trial Background 

 

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