Letterman: I want to serve on a jury
By Kerry Tesoriero - Greenwich Time

"Late Show" host David Letterman claims he wants to sit on a jury.

"The longer the better," Letterman said on his CBS show Monday night after announcing he has been called to jury duty in Stamford.

State Superior Court Judge Martin Nigro, who serves in Stamford, plans to accommodate the television wit.

"We'll try to drag it out," Nigro said.

But Letterman said he doesn't want to sit on just any jury.

"I don't want no shoplifting case," the comic said. "Save up something big like that Skakel trial."

Michael Skakel is slated to be tried for the 1975 murder trial of Martha Moxley.

But Letterman's not the ideal juror in Nigro's estimation.

"Too opinionated," the judge snapped.

If he is placed on a jury, Letterman may be disappointed.

"I want to be sequestered. Sequester me," Letterman said on his show Monday.

Nigro's typical speech to potential jurors would inform Letterman the state of Connecticut doesn't sequester jurors, nor does it feed them lunch.

Jurors in Stamford's criminal courthouse are made to deliberate in a stuffy room with unreliable air-conditioning, Nigro said.

Construction of a new courthouse won't be completed until fall 2001, and the state isn't putting much money into maintaining the existing building.

"When it rains, sometimes the water comes through the ceiling," Nigro said. "We'll supply (jurors) with umbrellas."

Who knows whether the lack of amenities would deter the star from fulfilling his civic duty?

"Not only am I going to be on the jury, I want to run the jury," Letterman said on the show. "I want to be the jury foreman."

Publicists said yesterday afternoon that Letterman made additional references to his jury duty as he taped "The Late Show" last night.

It's not hopeless for Letterman. He could get his wish.

Alex Martinez, a Stamford defense attorney, said he would have no problem with casting the comedian in his jury.

"He's witty," Martinez said. "He'd keep (other jurors) awake."

Prosecutor Bruce Hudock said he would consider Letterman as he would any potential juror.

"I'd have to ask him how he feels about prosecutors and whether he could be fair and objective as a juror," Hudock said.

David Cohen, supervisory assistant state's attorney, said he might pick Letterman.

"Just because he's a famous personality doesn't mean I'd keep him off the jury," Cohen said.

Defense attorney Michael Sherman of Stamford said he couldn't consider Letterman as a juror because he was Letterman's lawyer when Greenwich resident Margaret Ray was arrested for stalking the talk show host. Sherman also has represented rapist Alex Kelly and alleged murderer Michael Skakel.

Yet celebrity - a quality that Sherman is well-acquainted with lately because of his own television appearances - wouldn't immediately disqualify someone from his jury panel, he said. Nor would a prospective juror's busy schedule, he added.

"I had the president of CBS News once on a jury," Sherman said. "I've had many CEOs. I don't think there's a one-size-fits-all paintbrush for picking jurors."

There are detractors to the idea of Letterman as a juror.

"I don't think he'd pay attention to the case," said Lori McCarthy, an attorney of Bridgeport. "I think he'd be looking at the perspective of 'What material can I get from this?' "

Prosecutor James Bernardi, who will be picking a jury soon, said Letterman wouldn't make the cut.

"He's too busy of a man, that's all," Bernardi said.

"I wouldn't want him to take away the attention from the presentment of evidence," said David Marantz, a Stamford defense attorney.

Letterman is no stranger to the Stamford courthouse. He had a string of speeding tickets to pay there several years ago. The summonses also made it into his comedy routine.

Letterman declined to comment yesterday.

"Dave always feels that the show should speak for itself," said Steven Rubenstein, a spokesman for "The Late Show."