DETROIT - A judge is asking for opinions about the use of confidential informants as jury selection starts in the trial of seven people accused of conspiring to rebel against the government as members of a southern Michigan militia known as the Hutaree.
Detroit federal Judge Victoria Roberts wants to have a final jury pool of 50 by next Monday.
Jury selection will continue daily this week with 15 jurors questioned individually about their beliefs on the right to keep and bear arms and in this specific case the government's use of an undercover officer in addition to a paid informant who secretly videotaped Hutaree meetings. The government says the Hutaree conspired to try to kill a police officer and plotted further strikes. No one was ever attacked.
An eighth member, Joshua Clough, pleaded guilty to a federal firearms charge.
Clough will face five years in prison.
The jury pool will be narrowed down to 12 jurors and 4 alternates. The trial could begin next week and jurors are being told the trial could run six to eight weeks.
Security is very tight with two levels of security clearance and for their own safety, jurors are only called by a number in court. Even the sketch artist was told not to draw jurors faces.
This morning one prospective juror said she had formed the opinion that the eight on trial were guilty based on news reports she watched before being called as a juror. She was excused. Another had her own criminal case involving arson. She is in hold while they get her record. Another man said his wife booked a surprise birthday vacation that would be during the trial. He was excused.
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