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GLOSSARY: Key legal terms in the trial of R. Kelly

Here’s a rundown of the legal terms frequently used in R. Kelly’s Brooklyn trial.

R. Kelly
Musician R. Kelly, center, leaves the Daley Center after a hearing in his child support case on Wednesday, May 8, 2019, in Chicago.
AP Photo/Matt Marton

The trial of R&B superstar R. Kelly is set to begin Aug. 9 in Brooklyn’s federal court. Here are some key concepts and phrases likely to come up during the trial:

Batson motion: This could come up during jury selection. Potential jurors may not be dismissed from the jury pool simply because of their race, according to the U.S. Supreme Court. When a party in a case makes a Batson motion — an allegation that race was the reason for a juror’s dismissal — the other side must offer a race-neutral explanation.

Beyond a reasonable doubt: Prosecutors must prove R. Kelly guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to secure a conviction. While there is no precise definition, it is the highest standard of proof in any case.

Enterprise: In a racketeering case, the enterprise is the larger venture furthered by the crimes committed by its members. In the R. Kelly case, prosecutors allege Kelly and his managers, bodyguards, drivers, personal assistants, runners and other members of Kelly’s entourage formed an enterprise. Its alleged purpose was to promote R. Kelly’s music and brand, and to recruit women and girls for illegal sexual activity and to produce child pornography.

For cause challenge: One of two ways a potential juror could be dismissed from the R. Kelly jury pool is for cause. If a potential juror is dismissed for cause, that person has demonstrated an unwillingness or inability to be fair and impartial.

Judgment of acquittal: After prosecutors rest their case, defense attorneys may ask the judge for a judgment of acquittal — meaning no reasonable jury could convict based on the evidence presented. Such judgments are commonly sought, but rarely granted.

Mann Act: Prosecutors allege R. Kelly violated the Mann Act, a federal law that makes it a crime to transport anyone across state lines for prostitution or illegal sexual activity.

Peremptory challenge: One of two ways a potential juror could be dismissed from the R. Kelly jury pool is through a peremptory challenge. Typically, each side has a limited number of peremptory challenges that may be used for any reason as long as they are not used to discriminate against a juror based on race, gender, ethnicity or religion.

Racketeering: Congress passed the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act to target organized crime. It lets prosecutors tie together multiple crimes committed in furtherance of a larger racketeering enterprise. R. Kelly’s indictment alleges 14 racketeering activities, including bribery, kidnapping, forced labor, sexual exploitation of a child and violations of the Mann Act.

Sequestered: U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly has ruled that the jurors in R. Kelly’s case should remain anonymous and “partially sequestered” — or separated from the general public. Specifically, she granted a government request that U.S. Marshals escort jurors in and out of the courthouse every day, and that jurors be separated from the public during any breaks in the trial, including at lunch time.

Venire: The panel of potential jurors from which the R. Kelly jury will be selected.

Voir Dire: The process of questioning potential jurors and choosing the final jury.