Victor Hill corruption trial

4:23 AM, Aug 8, 2013   |    comments
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Video: Jury selection begins in Victor Hill trial

Video: Jury selection begins in Victor Hill trial

Video: Victor Hill trial begins

Video: Victor Hill corruption trial jury selection day 2

Video: Jurors in Victor Hill trial likely to be selected Wednesday

Video: Victor Hill jury almost chosen

  • Clayton County Superior Court Judge Albert Collier
  • Victor Hill defense attorney Drew Findling
  • Special Prosecutor Layla Zon in Victor Hill corruption trial
  • Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill acknowledges supporters during first day of jury selection
  • Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill
  • Victor Hill supporters in courtroom
  • Victor Hill supporters outside Clayton County courthouse
  • Victor Hill defense attorney Steven Frey
    

JONESBORO, Ga. -- Opening statements are scheduled to begin Thursday in the corruption trial of Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill.

The prosecution and defense decided upon the trial's 12 jurors and two alternates Wednesday.

Unlike Monday, there were no pro Victor Hill demonstrators outside the Clayton County Courthouse as potential jurors showed up for days two and three of the trial. 

But that didn't stop the court from asking scores of potential jurors if they'd been influenced by those protestors or anything else about the controversial sheriff. 

MORE | Timeline of Victor Hill corruption case

"Anyone familiar or believe they were familiar with 27 deputies getting fired on his first or second day in office?" defense attorney Steven Frey asked a group of jury prospects. 

Jury candidates were also asked about whether publicity over Hill's colorful first term had influenced their ability to be objective. 

Most said it had not. 

Prosecutors claim Hill abused county vehicles and credit cards for his personal use. 

His defense claims he's sheriff 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and could be called to duty any time. 

Special prosecutor Layla Zon quizzed jurors on their feelings about behavior by public officials. 

"Is there anyone here who believes that elected officials should not have to follow the same laws that everyone else does?" she asked. 

One of the most sensitive questions had to do with the prosecution's claim that Hill took several trips, some to gambling casinos, with a female employee who was supposed to be on sick leave. 

"Do any of you have a moral objection to a man and a woman traveling together, maybe living together?" asked defense attorney Frey. 

"I think we used to call it 'shacking up'," he added. 

Although short in stature, Victor Hill became larger than life when elected Clayton County's first African-American sheriff in 2004. 

Known as a tough crime fighter, he also made a lot of political enemies trying to expand his power.

He cost the county millions in a court settlement for firing more than 20 deputies his first day and making them leave under the gaze of armed deputies on the roof. 

Voted out in 2008, he won the job again last fall with 78% of the vote, even though he faced a racketeering indictment for allegedly using his office and its trappings for personal gain during his first term. 

As jury selection finally began Monday, about 20 supporters demonstrated outside the Clayton County Courthouse. 

RELATED | 350 potential jurors to be summoned for Hill trial

The NAACP and several state lawmakers claimed Hill is the victim of a trumped up conspiracy. 

"This is a high tech lynching of Sheriff Hill and we as a people will not stand for it," said Sen. Gail Davenport (D-Jonesboro). 

The protesters shouted slogans and held signs in clear view of scores of potential jurors going through security, some of whom may end up deciding the controversial sheriff's legal fate. 

Several supporters were in the courtroom, some wearing pro-Hill T-shirts, and were acknowledged by Hill when he entered. 

Prosecutors raised a formal objection to the courtroom show. 

"Mr. Hill entered the courtroom a few moments ago and you would have thought, your honor, the whole courtroom rose to a thunderous roar," complained special prosecutor Layla Zon. 

Hill's lawyers defended the protesters' actions and clothing. 

"I think we are treading on dangerous First Amendment issues if we do not let people wear whatever they want to wear," said defense attorney Drew Findling. 

But Judge Albert Collier ruled for the prosecution. 

"No one will be allowed in the courtroom that has any shirt or anything that is designating or supporting either party, I don't care what side it is," he said. 

He also warned the audience that any cheers, boos or similar outbursts would get them thrown out of the courtroom.

Judge Collier also handed prosecutors another small victory Monday.

He ruled that they can still use evidence of Hill allegedly pocketing $24,000 in campaign contributions, even though he'd already thrown out those charges because they didn't involve taxpayer money. 

Prosecutors argued they want to present the campaign fund evidence to show a pattern of corruption.

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