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Judge Criticizes Prosecutors for Dismissing Gay Jurors

A judge today dismissed an entire jury pool after lawyers for six same-sex marriage activists accused of trespassing complained that prosecutors had challenged prospective jurors based on their sexual orientation.

Superior Court Judge Joan Weber, ruling in the so-called "Equality 9" case, granted the defense's motion requesting that she halt jury selection and start over with a new pool.

The defendants are among five men and four women who were arrested on Aug. 19, 2010 as they demonstrated outside the county clerk's office, demanding that same-sex marriages be allowed in San Diego.

The nine were charged with misdemeanors related to unlawfully blocking the entrance to a public office. Three accepted plea agreements last September, leaving six to go to trial.

Attorney Dan Greene, who represents one of the defendants, said motions to dismiss a jury pool are filed occasionally but seldom granted.

A hearing is scheduled tomorrow to determine when the case will resume.

Weber has repeatedly urged prosecutors to consider reducing the misdemeanor charges against the remaining defendants to infractions, saving taxpayers the cost of putting on a trial.

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