Art Museum Judge Assails Jury Progress : Obscenity: Jurist tells his annoyance over slow pace of selection in Mapplethorpe case.

From Associated Press

A county judge said he will take over questioning of potential jurors today if lawyers in the nation's first obscenity trial of a museum and its director fail to make a more serious effort to seat a jury.

"I'm going to have to do something to move this along," Hamilton County Judge David Albanese said.

He had said Wednesday that the court will remain in session as long as necessary today to get a jury seated.

The Contemporary Arts Center and its director, Dennis Barrie, face misdemeanor charges of pandering obscenity and displaying nude photos of children in an exhibit of photographer Robert Mapplethorpe.

By Wednesday, lawyers had rejected eight prospective jurors and tentatively seated seven.

Albanese warned attorneys to limit their questions to those that would determine whether a juror could be fair and impartial.

"They're not going to be educated in the law or indoctrinated into cases of the state or defense," the judge said.

While defense lawyers had sought to expose bias toward homosexuals, potential jurors must distinguish between art and obscenity in weighing the charges over seven of the 175 photos from the exhibit.

On Wednesday, the defense persuaded the judge to remove two prospective jurors who admitted they were prejudiced against homosexuals.

Marc Mezibov, the gallery's lawyer, asked one potential juror, "Was that a strike against the Contemporary Arts Center to know it was exhibiting works of a homosexual?"

She replied that it was not.

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