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Jury Selection Moving Quickly In Stevens Corruption Trial

Jury selection for the corruption trial of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) is moving quickly, with two dozen potential jurors interviewed so far. Stevens' attorneys, led by Brendan Sullivan, and federal prosecutors have offered few challenges up until this point. Judge Emmet Sullivan has struck a couple of potential jurors, including one who said he could not be impartial about the case.

Judge Sullivan also ruled that Stevens may miss some of the proceedings in order to attend official Senate business, but cautioned the veteran Alaska Republican that he should not be absent too much or else it could give jurors "negative impressions" about his absence.

"We don't want to have any negative impressions going on," Sullivan told Stevens. "People reach the wrong impressions for the wrong reasons."

Stevens has sat quietly for the first three-and-a-half hours of jury selection, occassionally jotting notes but otherwise patiently watching the juror interviews without comment. Stevens is here already for the afternoon session.

As would be expected in Washington, D.C., several potential jurors - they are identified only by numbers - are attorneys themselves, and a couple are government employees. One potential juror said  he was a lobbyist for the Direct Selling Association, a trade association representing such companies as Avon. He was struck after prosecutors objected to his inclusion on the jury, drawing hearty laughs in a the media room.

Judge Sullivan, as his style, is moving briskly through the selection process, and a full 12-person jury, plus four alternates, is expected to be seated today. The trial is expected to last a month, with opening arguments scheduled for Wednesday.

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