Attorneys to use questionnaire to narrow jury in Clayton Sheriff Victor Hill trial

Attorneys in the October trial of Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill will use a questionnaire to eliminate jurors who may have been exposed to pre-trial publicity in the case.

Defense attorneys for Hill filed last week a motion to question potential jurors about what they may know about charges against the controversial lawman in advance of his trial, which is scheduled for Oct. 12 in U.S. District Court in Atlanta.

“This case has received a fair amount of media coverage since its inception,” Hill’s attorneys wrote in the motion. “It is likely that some individuals in the potential juror pool will have prior knowledge of the allegations and individuals associated with the case.

“The ability to parse out those potential jurors so that they don’t taint the rest of the pool will add to the fairness and efficiency of the voir dire process,” the motion said. Hill’s attorneys said prosecutors have issued support for their request.

Hill was indicted in April 2021 on four charges that he violated the civil rights of detainees at the Clayton County jail by strapping them in restraint chairs as punishment. The detainees included a 17-year-old and a Butts County landscaper. Federal authorities added three more charges in superseding indictments in the months that followed the initial allegations.

Hill has denied the charges. Gov. Brian Kemp suspended him from duty in June 2021.

In its motion for a questionnaire, Hill’s attorneys asked the court to “bring the potential jurors in on Thursday, October 6, 2022, provide them the proposed jury questionnaire, have them complete the document and return the questionnaire to the Court.”

Defense attorneys and prosecutors would further question jurors during jury selection on the first day of the trial, the motion said.