McCain appears for jury duty, gets cut from panel

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By Sarah Blais By Sarah Blais

PHOENIX (AP) -- Sen. John McCain was released from jury duty Monday after spending a morning in Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix and being placed on a panel of prospective jurors for a murder trial.

The Arizona Republican ended up on a panel for the re-trial of a man whose convictions in the 1991 killings of nine people at a Buddhist temple west of Phoenix were overturned on appeal. The trial is expected to last up to six weeks after a two-week jury selection process that began Monday.

Judge Joseph Kreamer released McCain after telling about 80 jurors in his group that a narrow exemption from service for people serving the health, welfare or public interest includes people like an "E.R. doctor or a U.S. senator."

"Something told me you weren't going to make it on this one," Kreamer told McCain after the other prospective jurors left the courtroom.

Potential jurors who believed they would be able to serve the whole six weeks were ordered to fill out questionnaires, and the rest were told to report back to be questioned by the judge on their hardship.

McCain said he showed up like other citizens because it is part of his civic duty.

"I thought it was important to be involved in the process," he said. "I was impressed with their efficiency and the information that they give prospective jurors using technology. The videos I think explained to anyone the importance, frankly, of being a juror."

McCain joked with other jurors who rode the elevator with him, including the woman sitting next to him in the jury box.

The 2008 Republican presidential nominee said he would have served on a short trial if he had been selected.

"I would have had to cancel a few meetings, but I'm sure that the country would have survived without those," he said.

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