Of all the potential jurors in a county with a population of 258,941 (U.S. Census, 2000), one of the 12 sitting members in Jablonski v. Ford was a former college roommate of Thomas Lakin, founder of the Lakin Law Firm in Wood River, and father of the trial's plaintiff attorney, Bradley Lakin.
Drexel Harvey of Moro roomed with Lakin for a year at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, according to the pre-trial interview session with potential jurors, known as "voir dire."
But Ford attorney James Feeney, of Dykema & Gossett in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., said Harvey's jury service wasn't challenged because defense could not show cause for his removal.
"As for the Lakin relationship, (Harvey) knew Tom Lakin in college (many) years earlier," Feeney said.
"He also said he had not seen (Tom Lakin) for 12 years and had never represented him. He said he could be fair. The judge would not exclude for cause," said Feeney.
Harvey did not return a message left at his home.
Other jurors contacted by phone who did not return calls included Tamara Dykeman of Alton, Kimberly Wagener of Edwardsville, foreman Edward Friedel of East Alton, Gretchen Hund of Highland, Dwight Woods Sr. of Madison, Jennifer Dutko of Granite City and Sandra Margrabe of Pontoon Beach.
A woman who answered the phone at juror Jerome Peek’s Maryville home said he was not interested in speaking to anybody regarding the case.
Phone numbers for jurors David Miller and Ruth Townsend of Edwardsville were not available.
A proposal in the Illinois House of Representatives would keep personal information contained in juror profiles from public view.
Sponsored by Rep. Paul Froehlich (R-Schaumburg), HB 22 does, however, allow a few select groups or individuals access to jurors’ personal histories: the jury commission, judge, clerk of the court, parties to a trial and their attorney and those authorized access by court order.
In January, Froehlich said that the bill’s purpose was to protect private citizens’ sensitive information from leaking into public streams. He subsequently tabled the bill in March.
The measure would not affect identities of jurors, which is public information.