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Prospective juror incurs wrath of Cape judge

Answers may lead to possible charges

Daniel Ellis went to rather extreme lengths to avoid getting picked for a grand jury on Cape Cod, asserting on a questionnaire and telling a judge that he was homophobic, a racist, and a habitual liar.

He made it all up, prompting an angry judge on Monday to refer the case to the Cape & Islands district attorney's office for possible charges, which could include perjury.

"In 32 years of service in courtrooms, as a prosecutor, as a defense attorney, and now as a judge, I have quite frankly never confronted such a brazen situation of an individual attempting to avoid juror service," Barnstable Superior Court Judge Gary Nickerson told Ellis, according to a preliminary court transcript published in the Cape Cod Times.

Brian Glenny, the first assistant district attorney who was in court during the exchanges, said his office had yet to receive the full transcript from the court reporter so it can consider possible charges against Ellis.

"The judge was concerned about the honesty of the information on the questionnaire and the statements made to the judge at sidebar," Glenny said in a telephone interview yesterday.

Nickerson declined to comment on the matter yesterday.

Ellis was not chosen as one of 23 grand jurors, who will serve for three months, deciding whether charges should be brought in criminal cases.

Others were not selected, including US Senator Edward M. Kennedy.

"Jury duty is a civic responsibility of everyone and a vital part of our law enforcement and criminal justice system," Kennedy said in a statement issued by his office yesterday. "I'm proud to serve and found the process very impressive."

After excusing the other prospective jurors, Nickerson, concerned about Ellis's questionnaire, called him back.

"You say on your form that you're not a fan of homosexuals?" Nickerson asked Ellis, according to the preliminary transcript.

"That I'm a racist," Ellis interrupted, according to the transcript. "I'm frequently found to be a liar, too."

"I'm sorry?" Nickerson said.

"I said I'm frequently found to be a liar," Ellis replied.

"So, are you lying to me now?" asked Nickerson.

"Well, I don't know. I might be," said Ellis.

Later, Ellis admitted he was trying to get out of jury duty.

"Well, I just . . . I don't think I can handle it," he said.

Neither Ellis nor his mother, Susan Ellis, could be reached for comment yesterday.

However, Susan Ellis told the Cape Cod Times her son was being honest in his responses.

"He just answered the questions the way he felt," she told the paper. "I wasn't thrilled with what he wrote. What he put down isn't necessarily wrong, either."

Mac Daniel can be reached at mdaniel@globe.com.

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