Published DateLACONIA — A Belknap County Superior Court judge has denied country singer Eric Grant's request that his attorney be allowed to individually question prospective jurors at his upcoming trial for aggravated felonious sexual assault.
Grant's attorney, Emily McLaughlin, has said that the "touchstone of a fair trial is an impartial trier of fact" and that the allegation made against him of sexual assault on a minor is such that potential jurors "will have strong biases and prejudices" against her client.
McLaughlin said potential jurors may also have prejudices and biases about believing a child — now a teenager — who alleges sexual assault, a counselor, and police officers who are the only prosecution witnesses.
She said her ability to individually question potential jurors about those biases will help ensure her client gets a fair trial.
Grant was indicted late last year for one count of digitally penetrating a female on December 31, 2006 who was under 13 at the time of the alleged assault.
An indictment is not an indication of guilt or innocence. It is a statement by an independent grand jury that enough evidence exists to warrant a trial.
Grant is the lead singer and namesake of the Eric Grant Band, a well-known local band that has developed a regional if not national reputation. Speaking through his lawyer, Grant has proclaimed his innocence and said he will fight the charges. Other that the above media statement, he has declined to speak publicly about the charges.
In his ruling against Grant, Judge James O'Neill said in N.H. Superior Court, voir dire — or the questioning of potential jurors is done according to the trial judge's desire — unless it is a case that involves the jury knowing that the accused could be sentenced to death or life in prison.
He ruled that neither death nor life imprisonment are possible penalties in Grant's case and he would ask potential jurors any questions regarding their ability to be impartial triers of fact.
O'Neill said he would consider any questions either McLaughlin or the Belknap County Attorney Office has during his questioning of the jurors as he deems appropriate.