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Attorney worried about juror bias in fraud case

When an individual is charged with criminal activity, the law of the land is that they are innocent until proven guilty. This presumption is built into the criminal process and requires that prosecutors provide trustworthy evidence that the allegations are correct beyond a reasonable doubt.  Unfortunately, it sometimes happens that a criminal case is so publicized in the media that it becomes difficult for a defendant to have a fair trial.

That is the contention of the defense attorney for a Florida woman accused of partaking in a Volusia mortgage fraud case. The case, investigated by the FBI, involved millions of dollars and 14 criminal counts. Authorities say accuse the woman of making false statements in order to obtain loan approval. The woman has pleaded not guilty and hopes to prove her innocence at trial. 

According to the woman’s attorney, the Daytona Beach News-Journal’s coverage of the case has distorted public perception of the case to the point that he has requested permission to individually poll jurors on their knowledge and biases about the case, or to transfer the case to another venue so as to avoid the effects of the media coverage.

Typically, the process of jury selection is done in front of the whole jury, but the defense attorney hopes to avoid spreading inflammatory information by conducting questioning of prospective jurors alone. This process would be more time consuming. A decision has yet to be rendered on the request. If the decision is favorable to the defendant, it could help to better ensure the integrity of the jury.

Source: Headline Surfer, “Attorney: Daytona paper’s fed court reporting of mortgage fraud case crosses the line in putting  client in bad light,” Henry Frederick, February 3, 2014. 

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