The six jurors and three alternates were seated in the trial of a $100-million invasion of privacy lawsuit, brought by Hogan, a.k.a. Terry Bollea, against the New York-based news website Gawker. At issue is an excerpt of a videotape Gawker published in 2012 that shows Bollea having sex with the wife of his former best friend, Tampa DJ Bubba the Love Sponge Clem.
According to Bollea, the video was made without his knowledge.
The nine jurors, most of them women, were culled from a large pool. Some 500 potential jurors were summoned, all from Pinellas County, where the sex tape was made.
Some tried to get themselves excused as quickly as possibly, practically begging not to spend two weeks of their lives listening to the tawdry details of the case.
Others were let go after saying they already held strong views on Bollea's personality and exploits, or on the news media in general. Few had ever heard of Gawker.
Attorneys for Gawker argue that Bollea has boasted about his sexual prowess for years, often in forums with large audiences, such as radio or TV shows. By writing and speaking about his sex life, he has made it a matter of public interest, they say, and fair game for reporters.
"I have an issue with 'public concern,'" said one woman, who was later excluded from the jury. "I'm not sure how a sex tape is any of my concern. I just don't understand how that's freedom of speech."
The six women and three men seated on the jury reported knowing next to nothing about the case, and having a range of views on the press.
"I think people in general have to take the media with a grain of salt," said one man.
"If I find something of interest or concern to me, I tend to look it up," said a woman chosen for the jury. "I tend to do a lot of investigating."
– Anna Phillips, Times Staff Writer