Editorials

Good luck finding neutral jurors for gay judge's sex crime trial

Judge Duebbert surrenders to police in November 2017

In this BND file video from Nov. 8, 2017, Judge Ronald Duebbert was officially booked on charges that include criminal sexual abuse and intimidation.
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In this BND file video from Nov. 8, 2017, Judge Ronald Duebbert was officially booked on charges that include criminal sexual abuse and intimidation.

St. Clair County Circuit Judge Ron Duebbert faces a criminal trial in which old allegations, sex, race, #MeToo and homosexuality will all affect his fate, regardless of whether those factors fully surface or remain submerged.

Picking a jury will be tough. About every trigger for bias is in the mix, even for the most color-blind, accepting potential juror out there. The allegations and testimony will be difficult to judge fairly, even for the most open-minded of his peers.

A recent decision did not help. An allegation that Duebbert in 1999 offered a young man a reduction in his legal bill in exchange for sex tracks closely to the current allegation with which he is charged. The judge ruled to allow it even though he understood the likelihood that it would prejudice the jury.

"A jury could hear this and think, 'He did it before, so he must have did it again.' Then, he's toast. It's over," said Marion County Judge Mike McHaney, who is presiding over the trial.

Special prosecutor David Robinson's answer: "He may be toast, but he pushed the lever on the toaster."

Here's a case that needs a special judge, a special prosecutor and now a special jury to give Duebbert a fair trial.

Toast.

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