US Sen. Claire McCaskill serving on jury in Missouri trial

AP News
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Posted: Jan 26, 2016 3:49 PM
US Sen. Claire McCaskill serving on jury in Missouri trial

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — If Leotis Tate ever craved the rapt attention of a federal lawmaker about a grievance, the 51-year-old man had it Tuesday when U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill was among members of the jury hearing his QuikTrip slip-and-fall case.

Much to her astonishment but fulfilling a lifelong dream, the former prosecutor was chosen Monday to help decide Tate's St. Louis County lawsuit accusing the convenience store giant of negligence.

McCaskill, a Democrat, had taken to Twitter during jury selection, never expecting she'd be picked for the civic duty that pockets each sitting juror $18 a day, plus mileage. McCaskill whiled away the time tweeting about the television shows prospective jurors were watching, her outfit — dark, casual slacks and a gray cardigan — and that she brought salad and hard-boiled eggs for lunch. Being on a jury, she gushed, was on her bucket list.

Hours later, to her amazement, the wish was granted.

"HOLY X@#(asterisk)!" the two-term senator tweeted. "I am on the jury."

"Don't worry, I'll share after verdict," added McCaskill, who during the 1990s served as the top prosecutor in Jackson County, which includes a large swath of Kansas City.

McCaskill was in place Tuesday in Circuit Judge Robert Cohen's courtroom, rubbing elbows in the jury box with constituents also tasked with deciding Tate's insistence that QuikTrip Corp. owes him at least $25,000 for his August 2014 tumble outside one of the company's convenience stores.

According to his lawsuit, Tate alleges he was "caused to fall" in August 2014 when an employee power-sprayed the sidewalk as he walked by. Tate injured his left knee and right wrist.

Tate seeks damages to cover past and expected medical expenses, as well as for "pain and suffering and emotional distress."

QuikTrip has denied causing Tate's injuries.

Since being seated on the jury, McCaskill has gone silent on social media about the matter. A spokesman, John LaBombard, told The Associated Press by email Tuesday "the boss is taking seriously her instructions to not discuss any details about the case until the trial concludes."

McCaskill, a former state auditor and Missouri gubernatorial candidate, isn't the first Beltway-connected politician to show up for jury duty with great aplomb. Last August, former President George W. Bush surprised a crowd at a Dallas courthouse when he appeared for the civic duty, later hobnobbing with other would-be jurors and accepting their requests for selfies before being whisked away by Secret Service agents after not being chosen for the panel.