Jury Selection Underway

Proceedings in the Ronnie Cottrell/Ivy Williams v. NCAA/Tom Culpepper case contained more comedy than drama on Tuesday, as potential jurors were evaluated by the judge and attorneys in the Tuscaloosa Circuit Court.

Jurors were questioned as a group, and later individually by attorneys from both sides of the case and also by the judge. Of about 100 potential jurors, four were struck from the jury Tuesday as a result of challenges on either side with the rest ordered to return Wednesday morning when the jury will be empaneled with 12 jurors and two alternates.

The plaintiffs attorneys' challenged three jurors, and two were immediately struck by the judge. One of those was struck because he said he was not certain he could award punitive damages in a case, and another who said he believed that the case is a waste of taxpayer money.

Only two of the defendants' six challenges were struck Tuesday.

One was a man who said he had not formed an opinion about the case. He was presented with the juror questionnaire that stated he had a negative opinion of the NCAA, and the juror said that his wife had filled out that part of the questionnaire.

Another juror struck was a woman who said she believed her opinion in the case was fixed and could not be set aside for a trial.

Participants in the case, Tom Culpepper, Ivy Williiams and Ronnie Cottrell, were finally together in front of potential jurors for the first time. NCAA Director of Enforcement Tom Jones was also on hand sitting at the defense table.

Several motions were heard by the judge in open court from the plaintiff and defense on evidence.

Culpepper attorneys asked that their first motion be heard in private, so it was held until all other arguments were heard. Then the courtroom was cleared except for clients and lawyers and motion No. 1 was heard.

No motion to limit use of a taped conversation between Culpepper and Tider Insider's Rodney Orr was heard in the presence of the media.

The judge indicated he would not allow evidence about phone conversations between Williams and Logan Young. Also, in favor of the plaintiffs, he ruled that statements made prior to the statute of limitations "non-actionable" would be allowed (but that lawyers can approach the bench to argue about each specific statement's admissability) in order for the plaintiffs to show malice in the statements made within the window of the statute of limitations "actionable".

Culpepper attorneys moved to limit statements relating to an apparent meeting between Cottrell and Culpepper that took place without lawyers present. Culpepper attorneys characterized this as a settlement meeting, but Cottrell attorneys called it a personal/religous meeting in which Culpepper made statements against his own interests.

The judge said that a settlement would be limited but a personal meeting would not be (which will apparently be a matter that comes during testimony and is decided through objections at that time.)

The judge indicated he would allow the accusations the NCAA made against Cottrell (including secondary violations regarding not volunteering that he had a loan from Young) to show that that is what caused damage, but would limit the plaintiffs in delving into what the plaintiffs claim were the origins of the accusation.

Culpepper attorney John Scott also wanted the result of Logan Young's trial in Memphis admitted. "Not the trial, but the conviction," Scott said.

But the plaintiffs objected that if that was allowed then they would desire to go into the details of that trial and the background of the NCAA investigation.

"That gets right back into conspiracy and we'd be glad to do that," the plaintiff's attorney said.

Judge Wilson reserved ruling on several issues.

Cottrell Trial Day One Notes:
**Attorneys of record for Cottrell and Williams were Tommy Gallion, Charlie Elmer, Delaine and Clint Mountain. Mike Rediker of Birmingham is not expected to participate in the trial.

**Attorneys for the NCAA were Robert Rutherford, John Morrow, Jim Jenkins and Courtney Crowder. For Tom Culpepper, John Scott, Alfred Perkins and Joshua Threadcraft were on hand.

**Delaine Mountain questioned potential jurors for the plaintiffs, while Jim Jenkins (NCAA) and John Scott (Culpepper) did the group questioning for the defense.

**In a humorous moment, one potential juror said, "I want everybody to win," and wished everyone good luck as she exited from her individual questioning.

**Another potential juror, who stated he listed to Paul Finebaum's radio show said he is aware that what Finebaum does is to aggravate people and to get them to call in. Hearing that, NCAA Attorney Robert Rutherford turned toward where the media was seated gesturing with his hand, pointing and mouthing words to the effect of "make sure you write that."

**One juror told the judge that since he had filled out his questionnaire that he "accidently saw where you threw half of the case out."

**The potential jurors were sent home with the instructions not to look at any newspaper articles about the case, listen to the radio or watch television programs about the case.

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