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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (April 24, 1974)
By Ray Waldsn
The defense lawyers in the Wounded
Knee trials, scheduled to begin next month
in Lincoln, will have some help from the
UNL Psychology Dept.
The department Is helping the American
Indian Movement (AIM) and the Wounded
Knee Defense Committee with a study to
determine what types of persons in the
Lincoln area would be the most sympathetic
to the 170 AIM defendants. The defendants
are on trial for the occupation last spring of
the area surrounding the Wounded Knee
monuments. ' ; : - : ' :;" v.
The psychologists ; will look for
distinguishing characteristics among
registered voters who express certain
opinions about AIM and Indians in general.
The findings will be used by defense lawyers
, to select a jury most likely to acquit the
Use of social scienca techniques in jury
select ion has been made in conspiracy trials
across the United States in the past three
years. Special research teams led by
sociologists Jay Schulman, formerly at
Cornell Univarsity and the City Collega of
. New Nork, and social psychologist Richard
. Christie, a Columbia professor, helped the
defense choose juries for conspiracy trials in
Harrisburg, Pa., Camden, Ohio, and
Goinsviile, Fla. Those jurors on the whole
voted for acquittal 34-2.
Schulman and Christie now are involved
in the trial of AIM leaders Dennis Banks and
Russell Means in St. Paul, Minn., and the
upcoming trials in Buffalo, N.Y., of convicts
allegedly involved in the Attica State Prison
Schulman is coordinating trial research in
Sioux Falls, S.D., and Lincoln.
A Sioux Falls telephone survey was used
by AIM lawyers to convince Judge Warren
K. Urbom to move the Wounded Knee trials
in federal court from there to Lincoln. The
successful defense motion said the survey
showed Indians could net receive a fair trial
in Sioux Fails. The state charges still will be
A team of three persons involved in
similar work in Sioux Falls and St Paul,
about . 10 UNL students and two UNL
assistant professors of psychology will begin
a telephone survey Thursday in Southeast
Nebraska counties. This area, which includes
Lincoln, is the area from which jurors for
the trials in Urbom's U.S. district court will
6lcrn, J ' '
iow ' YK team met fast week to organize the
survey. There was some disagreement about
the way in which subjects for the survey
were chosen. Lincoln addresses wera selected
at random from a voter registration list
. donated by the Lincoln Democratic
headquarters. In outlying counties, selection
is at random from telephone books.
Urbom has ordered the federal
government to pay surveyors $2 an hour for
their work, up to $300 an individual.
The group's goal is to complete 1,000
interviews within about two weeks.
Assistant professor John Berman, the
faculty member most involved in the survey,
explained the Psychology Depts interest in
' the trials.
First, the psychologists want to see how
attitudes expressed in the telephone
questionnaire will match certain personal
characteristics, such ss religion, occupation,
income and education. These are the same
things to which the defense will refer during
Second, they plan to redo the general
survey after the trials. This is to determine
what effects on attitudes publicity of the
trial might have had and whether there will
be a backlash in white opinions about
Third, they want to validate their method
of jury selection. This will be done by
interviewing the jurors after the trials to see
which of the several rating systems used in
selection most accurately predicted how
Along with Berman, assistant professor
Bruce D. Sales is working with the trial
researchers. Sales, a law school graduate,
specializes in psycholinguistics.
He has been called by the defense in
Sioux Falls to testify as an expert witness.
Berman said he and Sales, along with
several students, will observe prospective
jurors during the selection process. They will
rate them on several personality
characteristics and behavior traits. These
ratings, combined with information from the
survey and other sources, will be available to
the defense lawyers.
In federal trials, the judge chooses the
jury selection method. Usually the defense
and prosecution are given a number of
peremptory challenges (dismissal of jurors at
the lawyers' discretion) to eliminate all but
the final jury of 12.
This is where the information from the
social scientists comes in. It will be used by
the defense to choose which questions to ask
prospective jurors. It also will be used as a
guide to determine which jurors might favor
the AIM cause and which might be hostile
In previous trials, statistics were not used
as the only determinants of jury selection,
nor is it likely that they will be in Lincoln.
In the St. Paul trial of Banks and Means, the
results of the community survey gave little
useful information for predicting juror
behavior, Berman said.
Means and Banks era two of the alleged
leaders of the Feb. 27, 1973, takeover of the
Pine Rids Reservation town of Wounded
Kncs by about 200 militants-mostly AIM
members. New media reports estimated that
the size of the occupation forcejfaricLfjtyn
mora than 4C0 to last than 100 at the end of
the 70-day siege.
During the incident two Indians were
killed and several others, including a federal
marshal, were wounded by gunfire.
The U.S. Department of Justice estimated
that the government spent from $5 million
to $7 million dollars to maintain 300 federal
marshals, FBI agents and border patrolmen
in the area.
Wounded Knee was the site of an 1890
massacre of 150 Indians camped there by
the Seventh U.S. Calvary.
The state trials in Sioux Falls involve 22
people alleged by the government to be
connected with a Feb. 6, 1973, dash
between Indian militants and authorities at
Custer, S.D. The trials moved to Lincoln
involve, the alleged followers of Banks and
Means at the Wounded Knee occupation.
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