A lawyer, an accountant and a retired CFO are among the eight women and two men who were selected Monday to decide Oracle’s huge copyright infringement case against Google.
With the 10-member jury sworn in, lawyers for each side will make their opening statements Tuesday morning, kicking off a high-profile trial that’s expected to last four weeks.
It's a technical case, and at least one of the jurors seems likely to have trouble keeping up. She’s a retired woman from Berkeley who said she struggles with technology and thought the case would not be a good one for her to hear.
“I don’t have trouble with English, but in my limited experience with computers, I find English is used in strange and unnatural ways,” she said, getting a sympathetic laugh from the court.
During a break when the jurors weren't there, even Judge William Alsup suggested it might be a good idea to dismiss her. But neither side did.
When the pool of potential jurors had been whittled down to 16, each side was given the opportunity to excuse three of them. But the retired woman was not among those who were let go.
Instead, Oracle's first choice was to dismiss a man with a computer science degree who works at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He's a member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, he said, an advocacy group that supports Google in this case, so it wasn’t surprising that Oracle wanted him out.
Meanwhile, Google rejected a man who said he admired Larry Ellison, Oracle’s chairman, for buying the Hawaiian island of Lanai. The man said he had played golf there twice and is hoping Ellison will make the course a bit nicer.
Google also dismissed a man who said he doesn’t believe in the idea of “free software.” Google’s case rests partly on convincing the jury that it shouldn’t have to pay to use Oracle’s Java programming interfaces.
The selection process took about five hours, in Judge William Alsup’s courtroom on the 19th floor of the federal district courthouse in San Francisco. It was a long morning broken up by a few moments of humor.
Alsup dismissed one prospective juror after he was caught handing out religious leaflets to other jurors.
“You can’t be proselytizing your religion among the jury,” Alsup said.
“I server a higher authority than yours, sir,” the man replied.
“So far, he has not communicated to me,” Alsup said, and asked him politely to leave. The man offered him a leaflet on the way out.
Alsup cautioned the jurors that they're barred from discussing the case with anyone, even their spouses, lest it taint their opinion, and they mustn’t post about the case on Twitter or Facebook. If they do, Alsup said, they can be held in contempt of court and assigned community service.
He also told them they can’t “Google” the case to learn more about it, before admitting it had been a poor choice of words under the circumstances.