Federal authorities are hoping to move the trial against alleged gunman Jared Lee Loughner from Arizona to San Diego. Although Loughner was charged in federal court in Arizona, officials said publicity and the sensitivity around the massacre, which included wounding Representative Gabrielle Giffords and killing John M. Roll, the state’s chief federal judge, necessitate a change in venue. The decisions has yet to be finalized, but a law enforcement official told the Washington Post, “it’s going to happen. It’s just a matter of time.” San Diego is being considered because it’s one of the closest judicial districts to Arizona. A federal judge based in San Diego was appointed to hear the case last week after Arizona judges recused themselves. And Loughner’s lawyer, Judy Clarke, is also based in the city. Changes of venue are rarely granted, but they have happened in high-profile cases before, like when the Oklahoma City bombing case was moved to Denver because the defendants had been “demonized” in the media. Legal experts predict Loughner’s lawyers are also likely to seek a change of venue to ensure he receives a fair trial. But if they’re looking for an untainted jury pool and uninvested court system, they’re gonna have to look a lot farther away than California. Heck, even Cuba has taken itself out of the running.
Update: A spokesman for the Justice Department contradicts the Post’s report that federal prosecutors plan to move the trial outside Arizona. Director of Public Affairs Matt Miller told Politico, “The Department plans to bring the case in Arizona and will oppose any change of venue motions,” which doesn’t rule out the possibility of moving the case from Tucson to Phoenix. Requests for a change in venue typically come from the defendant. Since all Arizona federal judges have removed themselves from the case, the decision for a change in venue will be made by San Diego–based Judge Larry Burns. According to Politico, “His home district is considered a likely venue for the case if it is moved out of Arizona.”
Feds will seek Loughner trial in Arizona [Politico]