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The Champion

June 2010 , Page 53 

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By David A. Brener

Rethinking Change of Venue in High-Profile Capital Cases

Staying Put by Using Pretrial Publicity and Morgan v. Illinois To Remove Pro-Death Jurors 

In high-profile capital cases, it is standard procedure for the defense to file a Motion to Change Venue as a result of extensive negative pretrial publicity. The assumption is that when the case is moved to a jurisdiction where there is little or no adverse pretrial publicity, the prospective jurors will be uninfluenced by outside sources and will arrive at their decision based on the evidence alone, without any preconceived notions regarding the accused’s guilt or innocence.

The assumption underlying a venue-change request is that a jury pool repeatedly exposed to negative facts about the case, or the defendant, will be unable to render a fair and impartial verdict and follow the presumption of innocence, thus being more conviction-prone and more likely to recommend the death penalty. “Because the death penalty typically is reserved for only

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