Grace Beahm/Post and Courier
Lead defense attorney Andy Savage and former North Charleston officer Michael Slager
A federal judge has granted a request from the attorneys of Michael Slager for a statewide jury pool leading up to the former North Charleston officer’s trial in May.
The new order from U.S. District Judge David Norton denies requests by prosecutors for a jury to be selected solely from the Charleston and Beaufort areas. Slager faces federal charges of deprivation of rights under the color of law, use of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, and misleading investigators following the shooting of Walter Scott in 2015.
In January, attorneys for Slager argued that “extensive pretrial publicity of the case warranted a statewide pool to ensure the selection of an impartial jury. Federal prosecutors challenged the defense’s request, writing that sufficient safeguards are in place to ensure an impartial jury and calling jurors from a local pool minimizes travel time and court costs.
“Admittedly, although this case has received extensive media coverage, pretrial publicity has not been limited to the Charleston and Beaufort area. There has been extensive statewide and national coverage,” wrote attorneys Eric Klumb and Jared Fishman in January. “There is no evidence to suggest that the extent of publicity in the Charleston and Beaufort area exceeds that in the remaining areas of the state.”
Under the judge’s most recent order granting a statewide pool, jury selection for the federal trial is set to begin in Columbia, S.C., May 9, with the trial commencing the following week in Charleston.
Slager also faces a retrial on state murder charges, following last year's trial that ended with a hung jury. The state trial is scheduled to begin Aug. 28.