Monday, February 28, 2011

Pre-Trial Motion Decisions in Upcoming Joshua Komisarjevsky Trial

I wonder what defense attorneys for Joshua Komisarjevksy were up to when they asked trial Judge Jon Blue if they could show photos of the crime scene to jurors during voir dire.

Voir dire is the legal term for the process whereby attorneys question prospective jurors for suitability. Each side gets to ask a certain number of challenge questions to jurors.

I'm trying unsuccessfully to think of questions defense attorneys could ask of a juror that would make a difference when the prosecution begins its case. Defense attorneys will have to be content with taking their chances on finding that jury which will nullify the evidence. Cases of jury nullification are rare, but not unheard of.

The defense request for showing the photos to jurors was accompanied by another motion for a change of venue. The judge has yet to rule on that motion.

Komisarjevsky's lawyers say the man accused of participating in the rape and murders of three female members of Dr. William Petit's family couldn't get a fair trial in New Haven, Conn. But where besides Madagascar could you go to find someone who hasn't heard of the horrific Connecticut home invasion triple murders and sexual assaults?

Blue has also ruled on allowing tweeting from the courtroom when Komisarjevsky is tried. Komisarjevsky's lawyers wanted to bar courtroom tweeting.

Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes were arrested after fleeing the Petit home, leaving the place in flames, and crashing into a police car waiting outside. Perhaps defense lawyers will argue that Hayes and Komisarjevsky were on their way to a birthday party for Komisarjevksy's daughter. That Komisarjevsky even has a daughter is nauseating — and leaves another victim of his wake.

The challenges for Komisarjevky's lawyers are huge. The Hayes trial, like the crime itself, generated a large amount of publicity, some of which cast Komisarjevky as a demon possessed.

Among the number of charges for which Hayes was convicted, one charge was missing — the rape of 11-year-old Michaela. Hayes told police that Komisarjevksy raped Michaela, an act that combines with other crimes to qualify as a death penalty case.

In order to save Komisarjevsky from the death penalty, his lawyers have requested that their client be seated closer to the jury. The psychological impact of proximity is aimed at humanizing Komisarjevsky.

That's the thinking anyway. I kind of agree with the defense attorneys there. If I were a juror, I'd love for Komisarjevsky to be sitting where I could get my hands on him.

I couldn't survive voir dire, obviously. As for humanizing the defendant, good luck with that.

Defense attorneys tried unsuccessfully to prevent Petit from attending the pre-trial hearings. They worried that, during the Hayes trial, Petit's presence drew sympathy from the jurors. Am I hearing logic going backward there?

Blue refused to remove Petit from the pre-trial hearings but said he'd consider it an open question if raised during the regular trial set to begin in September 19. The reason for the long delay between trials is necessary because the process of jury selection is expected to be lengthy.

The process of jury selection is set for March 16. A total of 21 jurors will be selected — 12 regular jurors, six alternates, and three backup jurors.

Anthony Ventre is a freelance writer who has written for several weekly and daily newspapers, for Demand Studios, and for AOL Online. He is a former news director for radio station KPEN in Los Altos, Calif. He enjoys news and fiction writing and is currently working on a crime novel.

By Anthony Ventre

Source: Yahoo News

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