By Michael Gebhart
The Recorder, December 19, 1995
The prospect of having suspended attorney Ivan Morse on a jury might make a prosecutor nervous. After being charged with false advertising four years ago by the Alameda County district attorney and the State Bar, Morse has every reason to identify with the defense.
But Morse's presence in the jury box could provoke anxiety in a public defender as well. Morse was an Oakland police officer from 1974 to 1982, and says he still has lots of friends on the force and in the prosecutor's office.
Either way. Morse is a prime candidate to get knocked out after minimal voir fire.
So how did the former Dublin practitioner end up jury foreman in an Alameda County murder trial last month?
Apparently it was a conscious decision by the attorneys in the case - Morse says they knew about his career in law enforcement, false advertising charges and suspension from the Bar.
I let them know, I wanted them to have all the information," says Morse, adding that he also told Superior Court Judge Alfred Delucchi, Deputy Public Defender Kimberly Kupferer and Deputy District Attorney Colton Carmine that he would "let the jury system operate" in People v. Walker, H21603.
"I don't particularly believe that just because a government official says one thing, that means it's true² continues Morse. "I can be very fair."
In the end, Morse's influence may have been negligible: The jury deadlocked after four days of deliberations. Although he originally wanted to acquit on the basis of self-defense. Morse says he changed his mind after reviewing all the evidence and voted for a finding of voluntary manslaughter, as did nine other jurors.
For his part, Morse says he thought his background and run-ins with the law were perfectly valid reasons to exclude him from the jury.
From a defense point of view, I don't know that I would have wanted me [in the jury box]," said the former cop. "[But from the prosecutor's view] I would have had some reservations about me because of the battle I just had. I was surprised to be there."