A number of sports fans have been waiting to find out Will Angels’ Pitcher Nick Adenhart Murder Trial Get Change of Venue?. A motion for a change of venue has been filed by the defense attorney of an alleged DUI offender who may have caused the death of Angels’ baseball pitcher Nick Adenhart and two others. The Orange County Deputy District Attorney, Susan Price, argued that there is no need to move the fatal Los Angeles personal injury trial and that impartial jurors can be found locally for the trial.
The defendant’s motion for a “change in venue” is likely due to the belief that Orange County locals will pre-judge the trial. The drunk driving crash which killed Adenhart received national news coverage from a number of media outlets. Some of the specific information which could influence a potential juror to have pre-judgments includes factual issues from newspaper articles, local news channels, and other news outlets. Other influences that likely concern the defense include emotions that come from being an Angels’ fan. An Angels’ fan might be more susceptible to feelings against the person charged with killing an Angels’ pitcher.
There are a few legal aspects that are important to consider when evaluating a motion for a change in venue. Consider the following:
California Penal Code section 1033 provides that a court must order the change of venue of a criminal trial to another county “when it appears that there is a reasonable likelihood that a fair and impartial trial cannot be had in the county.”
The California Supreme Court has stated on many occasions that the search for an appropriate jury pool reasonably free from the influence of outside facts, discussion, or influences is key in assuring the defendant his constitutional right to due process and a fair trial. “A trial court should grant a change of venue when the defendant demonstrates a reasonable likelihood that in the absence of such relief, he or she cannot obtain a fair trial.” (People v. Coffman (2004) 34 Cal4th 1, 17 Cal.Rptr.3d 710).
In deciding a motion to change venue, the trial court considers such factors as the nature and gravity of the offense, the size of the community, the status of the defendant, the popularity and prominence of the victim, and the nature and extent of the publicity. (People v. Davis (2009) 46 Cal.4th 539, 94 Cal.Rptr.3d 322).
It’s likely that the defense believes that the “popularity and prominence of the victim” as well as the “nature and extent of the publicity” justifies a motion to change venues. The hit and run car accident was a prominent event in Orange County. It is likely that locals will know of the event and have prejudgments regarding the defendant.