6 men, 6 women seated on jury
And just like that, a jury
Afternoon can be tough on prospective jurors, who came back from lunch break to sit and wait for decisions from prosecutors and defense attorneys on who would stay and who would go.
By 3:43 p.m., as the lawyers worked things out outside of the courtroom, it looked like the wait was wearing on almost everyone.
At the defendants’ table, former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano leaned back into his chair; his wife, Linda, swiveled slowly in hers. A few feet away, former Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto leaned forward, his chin resting in one hand. They are facing trial on federal corruption-related charges.
Some prospective jurors, meanwhile, talked softly among themselves. One man tapped his right foot; another, further in the back, sat, clasping and unclasping his hands.
Eight minutes later, the lawyers returned.
And, at 3:50, the judge walked in — and very quickly excused 32 prospective jurors by name and then, all of the others were seated on benches in the courtroom.
Twelve jurors — six men and six women — and six alternates.
They will be sworn in Wednesday, when the case continues — after a delay caused byTuesday’s anticipated nor’easter.
Jurors’ favorite TV shows
Judge Joan M. Azrack, in addressing a room full of prospective jurors on Monday, let it be known that they’d been selected as representatives of one of the largest federal district court jurisdictions in the nation, covering Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Nassau and Suffolk counties.
That’s quite a mix of city and suburb.
And it showed in answers jurors gave to questions that Azrack last week said she planned to ask each prospect to get some sense of who they were.
Here, in no particular order, are their favorite shows, networks and streaming and cable channels:
“Game of Thrones.”
And “This Is Us” — cited by one prospective juror because the show features adopted children, and by another — the grandmother of triplets — because the show also features three characters born on the same day.
“Don’t tell me what happened last week,” Azrack said at one point, to chuckles in the overflow courtroom, where most press and spectators sat to make way for prospects, some of whom were left standing as others filled the jury box, several rows of chairs and the court benches.
“I won’t,” the juror replied. “I won’t.”
Another juror cited, “Friends.” To which the judge replied, “Boy, that had staying power!”
Other favorites, included comedies, superhero, court, police and law-related shows, nature and history programs.
And movies, from old 1930s and 1940s black-and-white films, to Bollywood.
Among their favorites: “Mad Money,” “The Andy Griffith Show,” “The Goldbergs,” “Glee,” “CSI,” “NCIS,” “Criminal Minds,” “The Flash,” Nat Geo, “Family Fued,” “Jeopardy,” The Disney Channel, The Velocity Channel, The History Channel, anything Marvel or DC Comics, “One Day at a Time” (the reboot), “American Justice,” “The Crown,” “Jane The Virgin,” PBS, “Shark Tank,” “Shameless” and “Outlander.”
Who’s the most admired?
The judge also asked prospective jurors to name two people they admired and Oprah and Barack Obama came out on top. Other multiple mentions went to Ronald Reagan, The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Princess Diana and John F. Kennedy — whom one juror said was a friend of her family.
Walt Disney got a nod, as did Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Helen Keller, Frank Lloyd Wright, Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, Jackie Kennedy, Barbara Bush, Harriet Tubman, Benjamin Franklin, Lyndon Johnson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harvey Milk, Rudy Giuliani, Tom Brady, Mark Messier, Eli Manning, Albert Einstein.
One prospective juror named Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first prime minister; another said William Wilberforce, an English politician who fought against the slave trade.
One juror mentioned a grandparent; another said her hero was her son.
Critic in attendance
Robert Ripp, a former Oyster Bay supervisor candidate and one of the town’s most vociferous critics, was one of the first spectators to arrive in Judge Azrack’s courtroom on Monday.
He arrived at 8:30 a.m. for the final phase of jury selection that was slated to begin at 9:30 a.m. but which didn’t get rolling until 10:57 a.m.
Ripp was one of many town residents who, over the past three years, stood up at board meetings asking Venditto, among other things, about the town’s relationship with former restaurateur and then-town-vendor Harendra Singh — who is scheduled to be the prosecution’s first witness.
Ripp’s hoping that many of their questions could be answered during the trial, which he said he intends to attend every day over the next two months.
“I’d like to hear the information that residents have been wanting to get for three years,” he said. “I want that to be disclosed so that people understand what went on here.”
Mangano in the D’Amato courthouse
Edward and Linda Mangano were the first of the three defendants to arrive Monday morning, making their way through a phalanx of reporters on their way into the Alfonse M. D’Amato United States Courthouse.
Before making their way through security, the couple passed beneath a painting of the former U.S. senator gazing down from on high in the lobby.
D’Amato, like Mangano, rose through the ranks of Nassau’s storied Republican Party machine.
D’Amato, like Mangano, served on the county’s legislative body.
As supervisor of Hempstead, Nassau’s largest town, D’Amato held the most legislative votes under the old five-member Board of Supervisors’ weighted voting system.
Mangano became one of the 19 original members of the legislature, which replaced the board in 1996 after a federal judge found the weighted voting system to be unconstitutional.
D’Amato, like Mangano, also reached the pinnacle of his political career with an upset.
In 1980, D’Amato defeated longtime incumbent Sen. Jacob Javits twice — in a Republican primary and in a three-way general election. In 2009, Mangano bested former County Executive Thomas Suozzi, a Democrat, by 386 votes — in a race even fellow county Republicans expected him to lose.
A year into his first term, Mangano consolidated four county agencies into a single Human Services department.
He selected D’Amato’s daughter to run it.