Jury selection continues in civil suit against IID

January 10, 2002|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

Jury selection for a trial in which the Imperial Irrigation District finds itself defending a curb that allegedly tripped an El Centro woman entered its second day today.

On Wednesday, Superior Court Judge Joseph Zimmerman excused numerous prospective jurors from serving who claimed economic and medical hardships.

Other prospective jurors were excused after being asked in English why they felt they would be unable to serve on the jury. They answered in Spanish that they did not understand English well enough.

Zimmerman also asked if any of the prospective jurors had an interest in the outcome of the lawsuit, and no hands were raised. None seemed to realize that any monetary damages awarded to the plaintiff will be paid directly or indirectly by all of the IID's customers.

Meanwhile, prospective jurors are being summoned for what will likely be a three- or four-day trial ending Jan. 17.

Those remaining were asked a series of questions by Zimmerman seeking to weed out any who might still need to be removed from the prospective jury pool.


The plaintiff's attorney, Lowell Sutherland of Sutherland and Gerber of El Centro, then began asking prospective jurors what each thinks of safety, attorneys, lawsuits and if any had a problem with awarding monetary damages to a person injured due to dangerous conditions on public property.

It was clear by Sutherland's line of questioning that in order for his client, El Centro resident Carmen Hamrick, to prevail, he is seeking a jury that believes there should be plenty of safety laws.

Of those tentatively seated, some have discussed the issue of frivolous lawsuits and had differing opinions on the number and type of safety laws.

IID's defense attorney, Frank Oswalt of Horton Knox Carter & Foote of El Centro, told the judge Sutherland inaccurately quoted the law in regard to public property and asked that discussions of what is the law not be included as part of questioning prospective jurors.

Zimmerman suggested perhaps only he should tell the jury what the law is.

Jury selection resumed at 9:30 this morning.

>> Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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