Potential jurors to get questionnaire Sex abuse trial set for November

September 28, 1993|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Staff Writer

Potential jurors for the trial of Northeast High School teacher Laurie S. Cook will answer a questionnaire a week before her November trial, in a move designed to speed jury selection.

Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Eugene M. Lerner yesterday granted a defense motion seeking the questionnaire.

The defense wanted to query 100 potential jurors on issues of pretrial publicity and sexual child abuse to identify those who feel they cannot put aside what they have heard about the case or their feelings about the charges.

Prosecution and defense attorneys will submit their questions to Judge Lerner next month, and he will rule on which questions may be used.

Ms. Cook, 33, of the 700 block of Charing Cross Road in Catonsville, is charged with sexually abusing a 14-year-old student at Northeast High School.

Charging documents reported the youth as alleging that Ms. Cook allowed him to touch her sexually on at least 10 different occasions and that the incidents occurred in a room behind her classroom.

Ms. Cook, a science teacher, has denied any wrongdoing and remains free on $10,000 bond.

Potential jurors will be called to the courthouse Nov. 18 to complete the questionnaire. They will return Nov. 22 and 23 in four groups of 25 to be questioned based on their responses.

Though the trial is scheduled for Nov. 23, it probably will not begin until Nov. 24 due to the jury selection process.

Use of a questionnaire to screen potential jurors is not uncommon in cases where there has been extensive pretrial publicity.

Both sides will be in court on Oct. 8, when Judge Lerner will rule on whether the defense may obtain school and Department of Social Services records on the child making the accusations and on any other potential witnesses.

The allegations against Ms. Cook involve a ninth-grader.

The alleged offenses took place on and off school grounds between Sept. 1, 1991, and Feb. 28, 1992, according to State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee.

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