breaking news

Senate confirms Pompeo as secretary of state

Fired FAU professor James Tracy begins trial in suit to get job back


Jury selection began early Wednesday in the federal trial for former Florida Atlantic University professor James Tracy’s quest to get his job back amid claims that university officials and faculty union members conspired to fire him because of his controversial views about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings and Boston Marathon bombing.

Circuit Judge Robin Rosenberg spent the first few jurors sifting through a crowd of prospective jurors and individually questioning jurors who had already formed opinions based on the short summary of the case she read to them or had otherwise heard about the case, which garnered national headlines when Tracy was fired nearly two years ago.

Among those was a woman who said she knew one of the professors who would be called as a witness in the case. She thought she could remain impartial in spite of that, but had strong opinions about the views Tracy expressed in a personal blog, including his theory that the U.S. government staged the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre in order to promote gun control.

“It doesn’t belong in a classroom and it’s, I should say, not a part of the course that should be expounded to students,” the woman said. “I don’t think it’s proper, that’s all.”

“But you understand, this case is not about what is taught in the classroom,” Rosenberg responded, asking the prospective juror whether she could put aside her disapproval of Tracy’s beliefs and decide the case strictly on the facts presented at trial.

The woman said she didn’t think she could, but defense attorneys in spite of that would not agree to dismiss her from the panel, so Rosenberg at least for now has kept her in the group of possible jurors.

Attorneys on both sides did agree to dismiss a male prospective juror who came in shortly afterward and said that he agreed with Tracy’s views and knew he wouldn’t be fair.

Another woman, a self-described cynic who said she believes corporate leadership woefully inadequate in Florida when compared to her native New Jersey, gave a thumbs up to Tracy on her way out of the courtroom after she told Rosenberg she had read all about his case and supported him.

“I know the case. I like the case. I was sending people links about the case when it happened,” the woman said.

Jury selection is expected to continue Wednesday afternoon.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

What a catch! Florida fisherman reels in 120-pound catfish
What a catch! Florida fisherman reels in 120-pound catfish

Joel Singletary has just reeled in the granddaddy of all catfish. The Florida man caught the 120-pounder April 11 on the Choctawhatchee River, which flows into sunshine state from Alabama.  The blue catfish caused quite a splash and is still making waves days later with everyone awing over it.  Weighing in at 1.7 times more than the...
State settles with popular Boca teacher who district tried to fire
State settles with popular Boca teacher who district tried to fire

An award-winning Boca Raton High teacher who survived school district leaders’ attempt to fire her last year for her actions while mentoring a troubled student has agreed to pay a state fine to settle the case. Samantha Major, now a psychology teacher at Spanish River High, was targeted for termination by Palm Beach County’s public schools...
Search continues for man suspected of shooting, killing deputy in Maine
Search continues for man suspected of shooting, killing deputy in Maine

Authorities are searching for a man believed to have shot and killed a sheriff's deputy in Maine early Wednesday.
Wellington renews farm’s $40,000-a-year lease on K-Park property
Wellington renews farm’s $40,000-a-year lease on K-Park property

Wellington will extend for another year a lease with a farmer for the village’s sprawling K-Park property. The $40,000-a-year contract was approved Tuesday by Wellington’s village council. It keeps J. Alderman Farms Inc. on the land through at least June 30, 2019. The farm’s use of K-Park has several benefits, village manager Paul...
NEW: PBSO seeks killer in West Palm man’s April 2016 slaying
NEW: PBSO seeks killer in West Palm man’s April 2016 slaying

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help in tracking down the person who killed a suburban West Palm Beach man two years ago Thursday. Nikenson Valentin, 22, was shot to death April 25, 2016, in the 5600 block of Coconut Road, off Southern Boulevard near Palm Beach International Airport. The sheriff&rsquo...
More Stories