With jury selection in one of San Francisco's highest-profile slayings set to begin, at least a thousand San Franciscans have been summoned for jury duty in an effort to find twelve people with no opinions on the controversial case and plenty of time to spend on a likely-lengthy trial.
We're talking, of course, about the trial of the man now known as Jose Ines Garcia-Zarate, who police say in July of 2015 fatally shot SF woman Kate Steinle as she stood on Pier 14, using a gun previously stolen from a Bureau of Land Management officer's car.
As Garcia-Zarate (he was previously known as Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez) is an undocumented man who (in compliance with the city's sanctuary policies) had been previously released from police custody in SF on drug charges without being turned over to ICE, the case turned into a lightning rod for immigration opponents like then-presidential hopeful Donald Trump, who promised a law in Steinle's name, even as Steinle's family repeatedly asked that her name not be used for political purposes.
Of course, you know all this. And you likely have an opinion on the matter! Which makes the task of choosing a qualified juror all the more difficult, and is likely why the net has been cast so widely.
According to the Associated Press, on Monday the first of 1,000 jurors sent summons in the case arrived at a San Francisco courthouse, where they filled out questionnaires asking them "if they can sit through a lengthy trial or have moral qualms about the case."
Which, Jesus Christ, who doesn't? It's a horrific tragedy regardless of politics, a case perhaps complicated by some longer-time SF residents' reactions to Garcia-Zarate's public defender: Matt Gonzalez, a one-time District Five Supervisor who ran a close race Mayoral race against Gavin Newsom in 2003 and was Ralph Nader's vice-presidential running mate in the 2008 presidential election.
The questionnaire phase is just the first for prospective jurors, as attorneys on both sides will then sort through the documents to decide who might fit the juror bill. Those who appear worthy will be required to return to court the week of October 16, where they'll be asked "about their views on immigration and other issues in an effort to seat an impartial jury," the AP reports.
That stage is expected to last about two weeks, and will involve questions from lawyers on both sides in an effort to find "jurors who can see past, or set aside, the immigration issues, and decide the case purely based on the law and on what happened on the waterfront, the Chron reports. After that, it's on to the trial, the starting date of which is presently unknown.