Larsen seemed in good spirits during the full day of jury selection, chatting informally with court staffers and reporters. In the courtroom, he took a back seat to Costopoulos, who consulted with a jury-selection expert about who might be best from a defense standpoint to decide Larsen's fate.
Larsen, a Pittsburgh Democrat elected to the court in 1977, is charged with conspiracy and drug violations for obtaining anti-anxiety drugs through prescriptions written in the names of court employees. He does not deny getting the medication in that manner, but he insists his actions were not a crime.
Jury selection is expected to be completed by late today so that testimony can begin on Monday, barring some last-minute resolution reached by Costopoulos and Chief Deputy Attorney General Lawrence N. Claus.
During the time-consuming jury-selection process, would-be jurors were questioned about whether they had read or heard about the case, whether they had any opinion on Larsen's guilt or innocence and whether they believed they could fairly decide the case.
But when Judge O'Brien asked whether serving on the trial, which is expected to last a week or two, would be an undue hardship, more than half of the 50 potential jurors stood in line to bow out. All were excused.
Ultimately, there remained a pool of 15 prospective jurors, many of whom said they had never heard about the charges and, in some cases, of Larsen, who has been the most controversial member of the state's highest court for more than a decade.
"I've heard the name, I think, maybe for the second time today," a retired teacher said.
"Who is Justice Larsen?" asked another prospective juror. When he smiled and raised his hand, she said, "Nice to meet you."