Long-awaited DWI trial for council chairperson off to slow start

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Potential jurors await processing in the Salem DWI trial on Tuesday.

POUGHKEEPSIE – The repeatedly delayed DWI trial for the City of Poughkeepsie’s Common Council Chairperson Sarah Salem began on Tuesday morning in front of City Court Judge Scott Volkman.  Jury selection began around 10:30 a.m. with a pool of 66 jurors selected by the Dutchess County Commissioner of Jurors.

Salem was arrested on the night of February 26, 2020, after she struck another vehicle on Main Street, injuring the other driver.  A police investigation on the scene resulted in Salem being arrested and charged with DWI – her second such arrest.  The full account can be found here.

On Tuesday, the 66 potential jurors gathered in the city court.  After the initial disqualifications were ruled on, the number of jurors was reduced to approximately 45.  After a lunch break, the prosecutor, defense attorney, judge, and court staff met with several of the remaining individual potential jurors to determine their qualifications.

As of Tuesday at the close of business, 16 potential jurors for the trial which will have six jurors and two alternates, were temporarily selected.

On Wednesday, those potential 16 candidates will be questioned by the prosecutor and defense attorney, in the voire dire process, to determine if the two sides can agree on jurors.

The original estimates by the Dutchess County District Attorney’s Office suggested that jury selection would have taken place on the first day, with the trial lasting approximately two days.  That schedule has already been eradicated.