There’s no place like home . . . gulp. Or so Dickie Scruggs and the other alleged bribery conspirators seemed to think when they filed their motion for a change of venue for their scheduled March 31 trial.
However, Judge Biggers has turned that motion down, apparently along with all the others (the news stories I read are unclear about the fate of the motions to sever the trials of Zach Scruggs and Sid Backstrom from that of Dickie Scruggs, but since they don’t affirmatively say the motions were granted, I’m assuming those motions also were denied). Here’s an update from the Daily Journal, and here’s one from the Clarion-Ledger.
There was a new motion filed in USA v. Scruggs (Northern Mississippi edition) yesterday — a motion by the government to empanel an anonymous jury and sequester jurors for the length of the trial. Let’s take a look at the factors a court ponders when considering whether the names and background information about jurors should be withheld from the parties, and you see if you can pick out which factors the government is worried about:
(1) The defendant’s involvement in organized crime;
(2) The defendant’s participation in a group with the capacity to harm jurors;
(3) The defendant’s past attempts to interfere with the judicial process or witnesses;
(4) The potential that if convicted the defendants will suffer a lengthy incarceration and substantial monetary penalties; and
(5) The extensive publicity that could enhance the possibility that jurors’ names would become public and expose them to intimidation and harassment.
If your eyes came to rest first on number 3, you have good instincts. The government also cited reasons number 4 and 5.
The motion also requests that the jury be selected from across the Northern District and sequestered, to reduce the chance of people having been exposed to pretrial publicity (seems like a strange assumption in the day of the internet) and — the motion says — to prevent the influence on jurors of publicity during the trial. Not to mention that keeping the jury in the company of U.S. Marshals reduces the chance someone tries offer them a bushel of sweet potatoes.