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Jury selected in Michael Carona corruption trial

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Eleven men and one woman were chosen Tuesday to serve on the jury in the corruption case of former Orange County Sheriff Michael S. Carona, clearing the way for opening statements Wednesday.

The panel was whittled down from a pool of 57 in the final round of a selection process that began weeks ago with 300 potential jurors. Six alternates -- three men and three women -- were also selected.

Carona, 53, is charged with misusing his office in a broad conspiracy to enrich himself and others, including his wife, Deborah Carona, and a former mistress, Debra Hoffman. Carona and Hoffman are being tried together. Deborah Carona faces a separate trial.

Each side was given an hour to question the potential jurors, and granted six automatic challenges. Among those who survived the questioning is a man who has worked for years as the Mad Hatter character at Disneyland.

Senior Assistant U.S. Atty. Kenneth Julian focused his questioning on how potential panelists felt about the importance of oaths of office taken by elected officials, and whether the officials should have to share their finances with the public.

Carona's lead attorney, Brian Sun, invoked the names of presidents Kennedy and Clinton in asking the candidates whether they could separate moral flaws from someone's ability to do his job. He also explored how they felt about the credibility of witnesses who are cooperating with the government in the hopes of lighter sentences.

Hanley is a Times staff writer.

christine.hanley@latimes.com

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