Image: O.J. Simpson
Ethan Miller  /  Pool via AP
O.J. Simpson, center, flanked by his lawyers Gabriel Grosso, right, and Yale Galanter during the second day of the jury selection for his trial in Las Vegas on Tuesday.
updated 9/9/2008 5:23:55 PM ET 2008-09-09T21:23:55

Defense lawyers in the O.J. Simpson kidnapping and armed robbery trial are fighting to seat a racially diverse panel that hasn't prejudged whether the former pro football star and his golfing buddy should go to prison.

Jury selection resumed Tuesday with three panelists dismissed. On Monday, 16 were excused for various reasons. No jurors had been seated.

Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass, prosecutors and defense lawyers used most of the first day of jury questioning Monday attempting to find panelists unaffected by Simpson's celebrity and his 1995 acquittal in the slaying of his ex-wife and her friend in Los Angeles.

Questioning by Simpson lawyers Yale Galanter and Gabriel Grasso hinted at some defense strategies: question whether words match transcripts of key tape recordings and find independent-minded jurors.

"No rule says you have to follow the crowd," Grasso told a group of about 40 jurors.

A lawyer for Simpson co-defendant Clarence "C.J" Stewart raised the issue of race, arguing that the predominantly white Las Vegas jury pool had too few blacks to fairly deliberate the fate of the two black defendants.

"It is not representative of the county, in terms of a jury of your peers," Charles D. Jones, a former Louisiana state legislator, said before Glass rejected his request to dip deeper into the jury pool to enlist more black jurors.

The discussion happened outside the presence of the jury prospects. Jones argued that blacks make up about 10.2 percent of the population of Clark County, including Las Vegas. But he maintained that only about 5 percent of the 248 jurors remaining going into Monday were black.

Prosecutor Chris Owens said an initial jury pool of 500 had at least 50 blacks, and that defense lawyers had not demonstrated a "systematic exclusion of a group."

Simpson and Stewart are accused of robbing two sports memorabilia peddlers at gunpoint a year ago in a Las Vegas casino hotel room.

Simpson, 61, and Stewart, 54, have each pleaded not guilty to 12 charges, including felony kidnapping, armed robbery, conspiracy, burglary, coercion and assault with a deadly weapon.

The two men face mandatory prison time if convicted of armed robbery. A kidnapping conviction carries the possibility of life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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