Print By Jeff Mordock – The Washington Times – Saturday, November 30, 2019 The overwhelmingly liberal bent of Washington has right-wing politicos wondering whether they can truly get a jury of their peers and receive a fair trial in the nation’s capital. Conservatives say the answer is a resounding “no” and point to this month’s…
Conservatives say the answer is a resounding “no” and point to this month’s conviction of Trump confidant Roger Stone.
A jury in downtown Washington, D.C., on Nov. 15 found Stone guilty on all seven charges against him, including lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction.
“It is metaphysically impossible for a Trump associate to get a fair trial and draw a jury of their peers,” former Trump campaign adviser and staunch Stone supporter Michael Caputo told The Washington Times. “This city is a magnet for the far left and no one who doesn’t subscribe to those political views has a chance with a D.C. jury.”
But professional jury consultants dismiss claims of partisanship, saying jurors typically leave their political views out of the courtroom and focus on the evidence in front of them.
“Once someone is seated in a jury, they take it very, very seriously and conscious of whether they are bringing their own biases into it,” said Roy Futterman, director at DOAR, a trial consulting firm.
Mr. Caputo is not the first person to assert conservatives can’t get a fair shake from a Washington jury. Attorneys for Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort tried in vain to move their dual criminal trials out of the District of Columbia and Alexandria, Virginia, which is across the Potomac River.
Manafort’s attorneys sought to relocate the trial to more conservative Roanoke in southwest Virginia, citing extreme bias against their client in the Washington area.
The city’s demographics support those claims. Only about 6% of D.C. voters are registered as Republicans, and the city has not had a Republican on its city council since 2009.
Washington, it is critical that lawyers have a plan to cut jurors with political biases.
“You have to deal with the people who show up,” he said. “People in Washington, D.C., are government workers, journalists, etc. You know going in you are going to see a lot of Democrats. You have to go in with a strategy to deal with this. That is part of the system and you need to use your preemptive strikes and challenges.”
Studies have shown that political bias is an issue in close cases without clear evidence. In cases where guilt or innocence is less murky, political bias is less of a factor, Ms. Hans said.
“If you have clear evidence that was really ambiguous that is where your predisposition might shade your interpretation than in cases where you have pretty clear evidence,” she said.
Mr. Caputo, meanwhile, is calling for more extreme solutions. He said federal lawmakers should take a close look at whether Washington can hold a fair trial for anyone.
“This is an endemic flaw in our judicial system,” he said. “The population of Washington exists to perpetuate the facts and the follies of government.”
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