Backpage.com Trial Begins in Phoenix With Jury Selection

PHOENIX — The trial of former Backpage.com owners Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin began yesterday in Phoenix, Arizona with the federal prosecutors and the defense questioning prospective jurors about their knowledge of the case or other potential biases.

The jury selection process continued today.

According to Phoenix-based journalist Stephen Lemons — who has been covering the case closely since its inceptions and currently writes for Front Page Confidential, the last remaining outlet of the once powerful Village Voice Media organization headed by Lacey and Larking — “the grueling process of picking a jury in the Lacey/Larkin trial played out Wednesday in the ultra-humid ‘special proceedings courtroom’ of downtown Phoenix’s Sandra Day O’Connor U.S. Courthouse.”

The court, Lemons reported, “went through two panels of about 30 persons each, […] with about 30 or so remaining. Potential jurors were masked up and seated throughout the courtroom, with some prosecutors and defense staff, along with a few press and other observers, relegated to standing-room-only in a gallery above the courtroom. The defendants, with one attorney each, were seated in the well before the judge.”

“Defense attorneys previously have asked that federal Judge Susan Brnovich permit them to ask questions regarding her husband, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who is running for U.S. Senate in the 2022 GOP primary,” Lemon added. “The defense wants to know what jurors they think of AG Brnovich, and if they have strong feelings about him that might impact deliberations. The government remained neutral on the issue. But so far, Judge Brnovich has stuck to her declaration that she doesn’t want her husband’s name brought into the case.”

According to Lemons, at least one of the jurors told the court, “I don’t like escorts, but I know they’re legal” and noted that his wife “was involved with the controversial anti-trafficking group, Operation Underground Railroad.”

Main Image: Former Backpage.com owners Jim Larkin and Mike Lacey, 2021. (Source: Front Page Confidential)

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