What to Know About a Jury Trial Vs. Bench Trial in Greitens Case

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo.–On May 14th, Missouri Governor Eric Greitens is set to stand trial for an indictment of felony invasion of privacy. 

As KOLR10 learned Monday, a judge ruled he will have a jury trial instead of the preferred bench trial. 

This all stems from a photo Greitens is accused of taking of a former mistress. He says he’s guilty of adultery, but nothing else.

If Greitens is found guilty though, the worst scenario is facing two to four years in prison. 

An attorney unrelated to the case says it’s unlikely he’ll serve jail time, but he would have to resign or face impeachment.

 “Governor Greitens’ defense team wanted to boil it down to the law, what the law says and apply it to these facts and that is typically better suited for a judge to hear the case,” says Adam Woody, a criminal defense attorney not associated with the case.

Prosecutors in the case argued for a jury trial instead of a bench trial, so the public would have a voice, which a St. Louis judge agreed to. 

“We’re very happy with having a jury and just look forward to a speedy, fair trial, which I know we’ll get here,” says Edward Dowd, an attorney for Greitens. 

But, Woody says finding an unbiased jury could be challenging.

“It’s going to be hard to dig in to get their real true and honest assessment not only of this case but you have political concerns, personal potential feelings regarding the governor so it’s going to be really difficult for both sides,” says Woody. 

If Greitens is found guilty, it’s unlikely he’ll serve jail time, but he wouldn’t be able to fulfill his duties as governor.

“It is in the Missouri statutes, in Missouri law that any elected official convicted of a felony can’t serve in office. Even though the governor would have the right to appeal any guilty verdict, it is quite likely that a court hearing any kind of challenge by the governor or his associates to try and keep him in office in the event of a guilty verdict would be defeated in court so the governor would end up having to resign,” says KOLR10 Political Analyst, Brian Calfano. 

If Greitens didn’t resign, the next step could be impeachment.

“I think you’d be hard-pressed to imagine a situation where the Republicans in the Missouri House and Senate would not undertake the impeachment and removal process of Governor Greitens in such a case,” says Calfano. 

As for who’s paying for Greitens’ legal fees, KOLR10 Political Analyst Brian Calfano says non-profit organizations are raising the money.

If Greitens doesn’t fulfill his term as governor, Lieutenant Governor Mike Parson would become governor. 

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