Kenneth Liggins filed a motion in the Circuit Court for the City of Winchester on Saturday asking the court to set aside the recent jury verdict in the case and grant a new trial. In the motion, Liggins says irregularities that occurred during jury selection for the trial resulted in an unconstitutional jury and violated trial rules as defined by the Code of Virginia.
According to Liggins, both parties in the trial had the right to strike three jurors from the thirteen potential juror panel selected to hear the case. Liggins claims that as the plaintiff in the case he struck three jurors from the list and labeled each strike with “P1”, “P2” and “P3”. Liggins says that the defendant in the case also had the right to strike three juror names using the labels “D1”, “D2” and “D3”.
However, an October 6th jury list presented by Liggins in the new trial motion appears to show four plaintiff strikes and only two defendant strikes. Liggins says that because the defendant’s attorney failed to make the required “third strike” the jury that presided over the trial was improper.
“The court clerk stood beside me and the defendant’s attorney during the jury selection process” Liggins said. “I am certain that I made the proper number of strikes yet the jury list shows four plaintiff strikes. Jury selection is an important part of insuring a proper trial and that process was compromised in this case.”
The trial revolved around allegations by Liggins that the newspaper published false statements on three occasions that Liggins had been handcuffed at a Clarke County School Board meeting after refusing to yield to requests by the meeting’s chairman to stop speaking. At trial Liggins claimed that the newspaper reports were false and that the information harmed his reputation in the community.
Liggins said that the jury selection process in the case raises serious questions about whether the proper jurors were ultimately selected to hear the case and has asked the judge to order a new trial.
“The rules are the rules” Liggins said. “In this case the jury selection rules don’t appear to have been followed.”
The juror selection log cited by Mr. Liggins can be viewed here: Juror Selection List