Eric Rudolph

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Federal court officials have told hundreds of people to report to the Sheraton Civic Center Hotel ballroom tomorrow for preliminary jury selection in the trial of Eric Rudolph. The North Carolina man is accused of setting the bomb that killed a police officer outside an abortion clinic in late January 1998.

Approximately 500 people were ordered to appear from 31 counties across north Alabama. Court employees say scores of citizens probably won't report because of hardships.

Those who does show up will be asked to fill out a lengthy questionnaire meant to gauge their knowledge of the federal death penalty case and reveal their attitudes about issues ranging from capital punishment, the government and abortion.

Rudolph, who has pleaded not guilty, has been given permission to skip the opening session, which is closed to the public.

The Birmingham hotel was picked because of the large size of the jury pool and the fact the federal courthouse is busy with the corporate fraud trial of former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy.

Rudolph also is charged in three bombings in Atlanta, including a deadly blast at the Summer Olympics in 1996.