A jury with all the ethnic diversity of the front row at a Hank Williams, Jr. concert was sworn in Monday, January 14 to decide the guilt or innocence of Mohamed Mohamud, the young Somali-American OSU student who, at the age of 19, was recruited and duped by two undercover FBI agents into believing that he was dialing a number on a cell phone that would detonate a car bomb at Pioneer Courthouse Square during the 2010 Xmas tree lighting ceremony being held there.
Not only is the jury made up entirely of caucasions, the youngest among them appear to be in their late 20s or early 30s. So much for a jury of one's peers. In fairness to the judge and the lawyers on both sides of the case, however, the pool of potential jurors for this case consisted of middle-aged or older white men and women to begin with. At least that's how it appeared to this member of the public, who was not allowed into Judge Garr King's courtroom for the selection process, but was instead only permitted to watch it via video in a vacant courtroom three floors above.
The images displayed on the dark, blurry, low-resolution monitors were of such poor quality that, apart from skin color, it was difficult to determine the ethnicity of prospective jurors. There appeared to be a handful of Asians and Hispanics, none of whom was ultimately seated, some having themselves asked to be excused for a variety of reasons. As far as could be determined from the video feed, there were never any potential jurors of African descent in the pool. Yet, according to Census Bureau statistics, as of 2011 the percentage of non-Hispanic white persons living is Oregon is only 78.1%. So if federal jurors are selected at random from state voter registration records, and if the minimum voting age is 18, why was the jury pool for this case so unrepresentative? Whether or not this was a question Mr. Mohamud's defense team raised during preëmptory challenges and challenges for cause is unknown because the audio feed was cut during much of this procedure.
Now, after two days of hearing testimony, it is—and possibly for the rest of this first week of the trial will continue to be—impossible to get a read on any of the jurors. That is because spectators cannot see the jury. This is due to the fact that although Mr. Mohamud's family and friends, public observers, and reporters were allowed into the courtroom for the testimony of the initial two regular FBI agents, when the first of two undercover agents took the stand on Monday afternoon, the judge cleared the courtroom and of everyone but the trial participants, sending observers back to the vacant courtroom, where only the lawyers' tables are visible on the video monitors.