HOUSTON A jury was selected Monday afternoon in the federal conspiracy and bribery trial of long-time Harris County Commissioner Jerry Eversole.
The panel includes seven men and seven women. Two alternates won t be randomly selected until just before deliberations begin.
Leaving the courthouse Monday, Eversole s attorney, Rusty Hardin, predicted a long trial.
It won t be a quick case. It will take several weeks, he said.
More than 80 potential jurors were interviewed.
Though Eversole had no comment Monday morning as he entered the courthouse, he s said in the past that he s eager to clear his name.
I feel like I m standing on a goal line and I m waiting for the ball to come down. And I m getting ready to run with it. And I ve been getting my butt kicked for three and a half years.I m now going to get to tell my side of the story, Eversole said at an event in January.
It was the first time he d spoken since he was indicted.
I said, God, what have I done so bad that it would be this tough? And he said, I just don t like you, said Eversole.
11 News legal expert Gerald Treece said the case was unusual because Eversole asked for the trial to begin immediately even though his attorney wanted a continuance to prepare.
This started out as an investigation. It s been around for years, said 11 News Legal Expert Gerald Treece. Now the real question is whether or not he abused his position as a commissioner.
The allegations against Eversole stem from his friendship with developer Michael Surface. It was a friendship that allegedly blurred the lines between private matters and county business. The indictment claims Surface, also a former county facilities director, paid Eversole a total of $100,000 in bribes.
The indictment claims payments included a cashier s check for $63,000 that Eversole used to buy his new house, $16,975 in payments for landscaping and $1,075 for a custom-tailored suit.
In exchange for the payments, the indictment says Eversole voted to award at least five multi-million-dollar county contracts to a construction company partially owned by Surface.
You re going to see whether or not the commissioner was not just doing his job but was doing his job and receiving improper gains from doing his job. You can t do that, said Treece.
Opening statements are expected Tuesday afternoon.
Among the high-profile witnesses expected to be called in the case are Harris County Judge Ed Emmett and Eversole s wife.