Paul Burks wants to cherry-pick his jury
When you scam an estimated 850,000 people out of $850 million dollars, there’s going to be some fall-out. When said $850 million dollar scam is the fifth-largest Ponzi scheme in US history, even more so.
Had access to the internet over the last four years? Own a TV? Able to read or view the news? Familiar with the going-ons of the MLM industry?
Paul Burks doesn’t want you on his jury.
In a June 10th filing, Burks (right) requests potential jurors be screened via questionnaire.
A written questionnaire that is tailored to the facts and circumstances of this case would significantly increase the efficiency and effectiveness of voir dire.
For those unfamiliar with the legal phrase, voir dire
is used to determine if any juror is biased and/or cannot deal with the issues fairly, or if there is cause not to allow a juror to serve (knowledge of the facts; acquaintanceship with parties, witnesses or attorneys; occupation which might lead to bias; prejudice against the death penalty; or previous experiences such as having been sued in a similar case). (Law.com)
Paul Burks insists a questionnaire is warranted owing to “extensive and largely inflammatory media coverage”.
A written questionnaire would protect Mr. Burks’ constitutional right to an impartial jury and avoid “trial by newspaper.”
(It would also) enable the parties to address the presumption of guilt that may exist in light of the extensive coverage surrounding the civil litigation involving the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mr. Burks’ $4 million
settlement with the SEC, and the subsequent and still ongoing litigation by the Receiver.
Sounds fair enough… until you look at the overwhelming broad scope of Burks’ proposed questions.
A written questionnaire would also allow the parties to uncover potential biases and prejudices relating to jurors’ personal experiences pertinent to this case.
Specifically, a questionnaire could address jurors’ personal experience with, and perceptions of, online penny auctions, multi-level marketing companies, and Ponzi / Pyramid schemes.
It would also efficiently enable the parties to identify jurors who have had any contact or knowledge of the thousands of alleged victims, winners, and losers, and the significant number of potential witnesses expected to be called to testify at trial.
I’m not a lawyer but considering how widespread Zeek Rewards was in North Carolina, sounds to me like Burks wants the jury stacked with total dumbasses.
As of June 9, 2016, a Google search of the phrase, “Paul Burks ZeekRewards,” yields hundreds of “news” results. Many of these results are articles that are highly suggestive, if not downright conclusive, of Mr. Burks’ guilt.
I’ll spare you the specifics, but essentially Burks is having a cry about mainstream media coverage of Zeek Rewards.
Burks whinging begins with reporting of the SEC shutdown of Zeek (2012), through to 2016 reporting of his trial date being delayed till next month.
To be certain, as the July 5, 2016 trial date approaches, media coverage will intensify.
The potential jurors who arrive at the courthouse on that date for oral voir dire will potentially have been exposed to years of continuous media coverage of the end of ZeekRewards, the $4 million dollar settlement paid by Mr. Burks, the filing of criminal charges, the guilty pleas of Mr. Burks’co-defendants, and the continuing efforts of Kenneth Bell and his receivership to recover funds for
the alleged “victim-investors.”
This relentless exposure requires a more searching inquiry than oral voir dire can provide, and presents facts sufficient for this Court to exercise its discretion in favor of a jury questionnaire, as many others in this district and circuit have done.
In his submitted juror questionnaire, Burks has proposed potential jurors be asked no less than 69 questions.
In the interest of your time, I’ve grouped the more interesting ones by category below.
Do you know anything at all about the case?
3. Have you ever discussed this case with anyone or otherwise heard anything about this case from any other source?
Is Paul Burks guilty?
5. Do you have any impression or opinion as to the guilt or innocence of the Mr. Burks?
2. Have you seen, read, or otherwise learned anything about this case, Mr. Burks or any of the above named individuals (Danny Olivares, Dawn Wright Olivares, Roger Plyler and Darryle Douglas) from any form of media (newspaper, television or radio newscast, internet news source, blog posting, or social media)?
4. Do you think you know or remember anything else about this case or Mr. Burks or any of the above named individuals (Danny Olivares, Dawn Wright Olivares, Roger Plyler and Darryle Douglas), even if you are not sure where you learned the information?
Know anything about the law?
40. Have you ever worked for a company or organization where your position required you to be aware of certain regulatory rules or laws?
41. Have you, a close friend or family member ever started a new business or developed a new product?
41 (f). Has the business / product been subject to any legal or regulatory investigations relating to the management or operation of the business?
Investment, or “investment” *winkwinknudgenudge*?
42. Have you ever invested in a company?
48. Have you ever heard of AdSurfDaily?
50. Have you ever had a dispute with the IRS or any other regulatory agency such as the SEC or the Federal Trade Commission?
Do you think penny auctions suck?
46. Have you, a close friend or family member ever participated in an online penny auction or bidding fee auction?
46 (b). If yes, have you, a close friend or family member had any particularly positive or negative experiences with penny auctions / bidding fee auctions?
46 (c). What are your general thoughts and feelings about penny auctions / bidding fee auctions?
47. Have you ever heard of penny auction sites MyBidShack, Zeekler or ZeekRewards?
47 (a). If yes, what are your general thoughts and feelings about MyBidShack, Zeekler or ZeekRewards?
Are you a leftist commie pinko?
43. Do you have any negative feelings about for-profit corporations or organizations?
43 (a). Does the profitability of a corporation or an organization negatively effect your view of the corporation / organization?
44. Do you have any negative feelings about the executives or senior management of for-profit corporations or organizations?
44 (a). Does an executive / senior managers level of compensation affect your view of the company / organization or of that executive / senior manager?
45. Do you believe a company executive might be more likely to break the rules than an average person?
Know anything about MLM?
34. Have you, a close friend or family member ever been employed or recruited by a multi-level marketing company?
34 (a). If yes, when?
34 (b). For what company?
34 (c). In what position?
34. (d) What were / are the roles and responsibilities of that position?
34 (e). If a close friend or family member ever worked for a multi-level marketing
company, have you ever had any discussions with this individual about his / her
35. Prior to today, had you ever heard of the term multi-level marketing or any of the companies named above? (Amway, Mary Kay, Herbalife, Rodan + Fields, Tupperware)
35 (a). What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of multi-level
marketing or any of the companies named above?
35 (b). Do you have any general thoughts or opinions regarding multi-level marketing or multi-level marketing companies?
35 (c). Have you ever had any particularly positive or negative experiences with a multilevel marketing company?
36. Have you ever worked as an independent contractor or independent representative of a company?
36 (b). If yes, did you receive an IRS 1099 Form?
Are you down with the MLM underbelly? (aka. Are you one of us?)
51. Have you, a close friend or family member ever been the victim of a fraud?
51. (b). Did you report that fraud to the authorities?
51 (c). Did this fraud involve the Internet?
52. Have you or anyone close to you ever been accused of fraud?
53. Have you or anyone close to you ever been a party in a lawsuit, a witness in court, arrested, convicted of a crime, a victim of a crime or accused of a crime?
Are you an impressionable dumbass (we can manipulate)?
49. In your personal and / or professional life, do you rely on the advice of professionals such as lawyers, accountants and / or consultants?
63. What websites or blogs do you regularly visit?
64. Do you write or contribute to a blog or other website? If so, what blogs or websites?
65. What television stations and programs do you watch regularly?
66. What, if any, social media websites or apps do you use?
67. What is your main source of news?
What do you do for a living?
29. Have you, a close friend or family member ever worked in sales and / or marketing?
30. Have you, a close friend or family member ever worked in the finance or banking industry?
31. Have you ever held a managerial / leadership position in any company or organization?
31 (b). Were / are you responsible for calculating revenue / profits or making financial projections about the company?
32. Have you ever held a position in which your income / salary was largely commission based?
33. Have you ever held a position in which you were responsible for lead-generation, fundraising and / or the promotion of your company or organization?
37. Have you ever had any experience or training in accounting, bookkeeping, record keeping or digital record keeping?
38. Have you ever had any experience or training in computer programming or web development?
39. Have you ever had any experience or training in tax law, IRS compliance, auditing or any other related fields?
Do you work for de ebil gubmint?
27. Have you or anyone close to you ever worked in law enforcement (including for state or local police departments, the FBI, US Marshal Service, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Internal Revenue Service, a County Sheriff’s Department, any state or federal prosecutor’s office, the Department of Corrections, or the Bureau of Prisons or any state or local prison system)?
28. Are you or anyone close to you employed by the federal, state, or city/county governments?
What color underwear do you have on?
11. What is your age?
12. Where were you born?
13. In what town or county do you live?
14. Do you rent or own your home?
15. How long have you lived at your current address?
16. If you have resided at your current address less than 5 years, please list your previous areas of residence
17. . Please list the names and relationships of all other persons with whom you live
18. What is your marital status?
19. Do you have any children, step-children, or foster children?
20. What is your educational background?
21. If you received a certification or college or post-graduate degree, what field is it in?
22. What is your current employment status? (If employed, please list the name of your employer, your job title, and the number of years at your current position.)
23. Do you supervise other employees?
24. If you are not currently employed, please provide your last occupation or job and the dates worked in that position
25. Please list any other significant employment experience you have had that has not already been disclosed.
26. Is your spouse or significant other employed? (If employed, please provide his or her employer and job title)
Some of the questions are pretty eye-opening, especially 48. asking about AdSurfDaily.
AdSurfDaily was an ad-credit scheme, so I’m not really sure what it has to do with Zeek Rewards’ Ponzi points model.
One possibility is Burks’ attorneys trying to proactively weed out anyone who thinks posting ads to useless classifieds websites does not equal “work”.
Some of the questions seem pretty irrelevant, however without knowing how answers will be interpreted it’s difficult to establish why they’re there in the first place. The media questions and fraud groups of questions stand out in particular.
Anyway, that’s enough from me. What do you think about the proposed questions?
A fair list to ask potential jurors, or has Burks’ attorney gone way overboard in wanting to stack the jury pool?
Given Burks’ trial is just over three weeks away and pending opposition from the DOJ, I’m expecting a decision on Burks’ filing late next week.
Footnote: Our thanks to Don@ASDUpdates for providing a copy of Paul Burks’ “Motion For A Juror Questionnaire” (June 10th).
where in the world can the defence find a jury which has no exposure to the TV or internet and has not heard of zeek rewards.
also how can the ‘honesty’ of a prospective ‘juror’ be ascertained via a questionnaire? a juror can deny any knowledge of zeek or ponzi/pyramid schemes, even though he has accessed such information on the internet.
in this age of information technology, looking for an unbiased jury is next to impossible, unless the defence can find some lost society in the heart of the USA, like the movie ‘the village’!
but i guess, instead of relying on the opinion of one judge who may or may not be biased, defence chooses to rely on the opinion of a larger number of people who may or may not be biased, to hedge their bets.
btw oz, great headings! i particularly liked ‘Are you a leftist commie pinko?’ and ‘Do you work for de ebil gubmint?’ ! 🙂
I think Burks’ attornies should drop the facade and just ask the one question they’re really interested in:
1. Are you a sovereign citizen?
If “yes”, welcome to the jury pool!
So much news to cover today I thought I’d have a bit of fun. Glad you enjoyed them 🙂
There were enough ASD alumnis in Zeek to raise eyebrows.