The Law: Judging Jurors

Even before the first word of testimony, many trials pass through a critical yet haphazard phase: the selection of jurors. In major cases prosecutors sometimes do enlist police or the FBI to check out potential jurors; defense attorneys occasionally commission their own investigations when their clients can foot the bill. But the final decision about a juror is usually based on a large dose of intuition—bolstered, when possible, by past experience.

That longstanding practice is being shattered in the St. Paul, Minn., federal courtroom where militant Indian Leaders Russell Means, 34, and Dennis...

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