Opening statements in the trial of Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold—who is accused of tasking county police officers with his personal and political errands—could start as early as Thursday afternoon.
Maryland State Prosecutor Emmet Davitt said the jury would be seated on Thursday, but he was not sure whether enough time would be left for pretrial motions and opening statements.
It will depend on how quickly Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge Dennis Sweeney can seat 12 jurors and four alternates.
Leopold, a Pasadena Republican, faces a five-dcount indictment handed down by a grand jury in March that included four counts of misconduct in office and one count of fraudulent misappropriation by a fiduciary.
It alleges that Leopold used county police officers assigned to him as a security detail to perform a range of inappropriate tasks ranging from compiling information on his political "enemies" and removing his opponent's campaign signs in 2010 to running interference between his live-in girlfriend and his mistress.
The indictment also alleges that Leopold defrauded the county by authorizing overtime pay for the officers who performed those tasks. If convicted of fraud, Leopold faces up to five years in prison.
On the first day of proceedings, the two-term county executive split his time between sitting at the defendant's table and standing next to his two attorneys, who huddled beside each potential juror at the bench as they answered questions for Judge Sweeny.
Each conference took between three to six minutes, and a white noise machine ensured those conversations remained private.
Of the 93 people who approached the bench, the judge dismissed 34 and asked 58 people to return Wednesday morning, said Terri Bolling, a spokeswoman for the Maryland judiciary.
The judge also asked that 40 additional people from the original pool of 291 potential jurors telephone the courthouse on Thursday morning to see whether they need to return.
Bolling said the judge thinks he may have enough qualified applicants in the pool of 58 people to seat a jury, but he wants to review his notes and their questionnaires overnight to be sure.
Each potential juror filled out a form with 52 questions before Wednesday's proceedings. Bolling said Sweeny will release the details of that questionnaire once the jury is seated.
Leopold has maintained his innocence. He had no comment for reporters as he left the courthouse.
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