Governor W. W. Barron Bribery Conspiracy Trial

Charleston Gazette
August 13, 1968

Jurors Picked in Trial Of Barron, Five Others

By John G. Morgan
Staff Writer

The bribery conspiracy case of the U. S. government versus a former West Virginia governor and five others opened in federal court here Monday with the selection of a jury.

Seven women and five men were impaneled to sit as a jury for the complex case that may last several weeks. Special Federal Judge J. Robert Martin Jr. ordered the 12 members and six alternates confined for the duration.

The jurors and alternates will have quarters in the Daniel Boone Hotel during the trial. They will have only limited contact with their families and businesses.

Martin told the jurors there telephone conversations and their access to TV, radio and newspapers will be monitored to "a certain extent."

The judge took full responsibility for confining the 18 persons and said he understood they would be seriously inconvenienced. "It will be a trying experience, to say the least," he added.

One question which the judge directed to prospective jurors before the final selection was:

"What impact, other than personal inconvenience, would your confinement as a juror in this case, possibly for several weeks, have upon you."

All answered "none," or replied in words to that effect.

The judge pledged that every effort will be made to keep all jurors comfortable. He placed a marshal and a deputy marshall [sic] in charge of the group.

Ralph E. Buckalew, a Republican city councilman at Dunbar and a relief operator foreman for Union Carbide, was chosen foreman of the jurors at an organization meeting.

Other members of the jury include four housewives, a maid, a secretary, a computer programmer for a truck company, a Carbide laborer, a custodian for the Kanawha County Board of Education, a part-time telephone operator and an office clerk for United Fuel Gas. Co.

The six alternatives include a housewife, a cook-waitress, a seamstress, a crane operator, a bricklayer and an electrician.

Court opened with a two-minute arraignment proceeding for former Gov. W. W. Barron and the following five additional defendants.

Former State Road Commissioner Burl A. Sawyers, former Deputy Road Commissioner Vincent J. Johnkoski, former Finance Commissioner Truman E. Gore, Elkins lawyer Bonn Brown and Clarksburg automobile dealer Alfred W. Schroath.

The six men, all well-dress in dark suits, white shirts and ties, sat on the front middle row of seats in the courtroom. Later, at the judge's suggestion, they moved up closer to sit behind their eight lawyers at a long table.

In the arraignment proceeding, each of the defendants arose and answered "not guilty" when asked how he pleaded to the indictment. Each formally waived the reading of the nine-page indictment.

The six are charged with conspiring to use interstate facilities to carry out bribery activities involving state contracts.

Brown, hospitalized last week, was present with his lawyer at the opening of the trial. An unpublicized but apparently favorable report on his condition has been filed with the court.

Seventy-six prospective jurors were in the courtroom as proceedings began. Federal Court Clerk Virgil F. Frizzell read the names while Martin retired to his chambers to study the large number of suggested questions to be asked of jurors.

"We are going to endeavor to cover the matter in several questions without a minute, specific approach to it," he explained.

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Government and Politics