Judge Criticizes Kohberger Defense Team for Unauthorized Juror Survey

 April 6, 2024

A judicial critique recently unfolded in Idaho, where a judge openly rebuked the defense team of Byran Kohberger for an unconventional approach to jury selection.

According to Fox News, in a significant turn of events within the Idaho courtroom, a judge lambasted Byran Kohberger's defense for distributing a biased questionnaire to potential jurors sans court approval amid his murder trial.

Byran Kohberger stands accused in a chilling case, of the November 2022 murder of four University of Idaho students, stirring a small community in Moscow, Idaho. Kohberger's defense dispatched a questionnaire to approximately 400 locals, potentially qualifying as jurors, without obtaining necessary judicial consent. This action prompted Judge John Judge to voice his disapproval during an ensuing hearing, critiquing the defense team's maneuver.

Background Of The Case

The survey, sent to highlight public bias to argue for relocating the trial, sparked concern and complaints among recipients, leading to police reports.

Latah County prosecutor Bill Thompson voiced objections, particularly over the questionnaire's dissemination of detailed and potentially inadmissible case information—actions running counter to the existing gag order.

Defense attorney Anne Taylor conceded the questionnaire's flaws, acknowledging inaccuracies within the posed questions. Meanwhile, Bryan Edelman, the social psychologist behind the survey, maintained no gag order breach occurred, arguing the survey relied solely on public domain information.

Judge John Judge emphasized the paradoxical nature of the defense's actions, pointing out the irony in potentially compromising fair trial efforts through a tool intended to showcase public bias against Kohberger.

Kohberger Allegations

Kohberger, formerly a criminology Ph.D. student, faces allegations relating to the deaths of Xana Kernodle, Ethan Chapin, Kaylee Goncalves, and Madison Mogen. Arrested in late December 2022, his trial, set for no later than the summer of 2025, has prosecutors seeking the death penalty.

Bill Thompson's reaction to the unauthorized questionnaire captures the situation's gravity, "Your honor, there is no question those questions are disseminating, through communication, evidence expected to be presented, evidence that could be or would be inadmissible at trial. It's kind of ironic that we have worked so hard … both sides, to protect a fair trial. It concerns me."


The events unfolding in Idaho offer a snapshot into the complex prelude to Byran Kohberger's trial.

The unauthorized juror questionnaire by Kohberger's defense—aimed at highlighting juror bias—has instead drawn criticism from the bench for potentially prejudicing the case further.

This episode underscores the delicate balance between preparing a robust defense and ensuring the integrity of judicial proceedings.

Reflecting on the accusations against Kohberger, the efforts to secure a fair trial, and the ongoing debate over the jury questionnaire, the legal saga watches closely as summer 2025 approaches, when Kohberger faces the gravest penalties under American law.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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