Chicago: Talk show queen Oprah Winfrey
has unexpectedly found herself in the middle of the 26/11
trial of terror suspect Tahawwur Rana, after one of the jurors
requested to be excused to watch her show.
The potential juror asked US District Judge Harry
Leinenweber that she be excused from jury questioning of the
50-year-old Pakistani-Canadian because she had a ticket for
one of the final episodes of "The Oprah Winfrey Show", the
Chicago Tribune reported.
Judge Leinenweber told the juror that though she could
watch the show, she was not off the hook completely. She was
asked to return to court tomorrow, according to a spokesman
for the US attorney`s office.
Perhaps only Oprah could have linked the two major
federal trials happening right now in Chicago.
It was the second time that judges have granted
scheduling exceptions to allow potential jurors to attend the
show of Winfrey, who is wrapping up production of her wildly
popular daytime television programme after a 25-year run.
During jury selection in the retrial of former
Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, a judge eventually
dismissed a woman who also had the highly prized tickets for
The first day of jury selection began yesterday in the
trial of Rana on charges he helped a friend who scouted
targets for the 2008 Mumbai terror attack in which about 166
people were killed.
A panel of 100 jurors have been called to the Dirksen
US Courthouse to fill out questionnaires and be questioned by
attorneys for potential selection to the jury deciding Rana`s
When a member of his staff informed him of the
conflict, Leinenweber, who is presiding over the case, quipped
to the attorneys with a smile: "Who`s going to be the
responsible for telling her she can`t go to Oprah?"
"No one as it turns out." Leinenweber said he would
tell the juror she could attend the taping today and then
return tomorrow to the courthouse to be questioned.
The trial of Rana who is accused with David Coleman
Headley for the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks began here
Rana, a 50-year-old Chicago businessman, is accused of
helping his childhood friend, Headley, to scout targets for
the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) for the Mumbai attack
that killed 166 people, including six Americans.