Thursday, February 09, 2006

Reverse Venue Issue

On February 14, 2006, the en banc 11th circuit will hear oral argument on the venue issue for the Cuban Five.

Now, the opposite issue has arisen in front of Judge Cohn. Here the Cuban exile defendants are claiming that the feds should not have brought the case against them in Ft. Lauderdale where there is barely any connection to the crime. Instead, they argue, the case should be transferred to Miami where the firearms were actually seized because in Miami they will receive a jury of their peers. ''[T]he government ignored the overwhelming ties of parties and witnesses to Miami-Dade and maneuvered to improve its chances of securing convictions by minimizing, if not eliminating, the participation of Cuban Americans in the petit jury and in the grand jury that returned the indictment,'' wrote their lawyers, Ben Kuehne, Dennis Kainen, Kendall Coffey and Arturo Hernandez. See the Herald article here.

I wonder how CABA will react to this. They just filed an amicus brief supporting the government in the 11th Circuit on the venue issue arguing that it was discriminatory for the panel to hold that the spies could not get a fair trial in Miami... Will they support the defense or the prosecution on this issue? I'm sure the spies are going to cite this case as an admission from the government as to jury dynamics in Miami.

Defenders of the government on this issue argue that if venue is even arguably proper in Ft. Lauderdale, the U.S. Attorney's office should not be faulted for bringing the case there if it thinks it will get a more favorable jury... Thoughts?

1 comment:

pedestrian observations said...

The Sixth Amendment provides a defendant with the right to a trial "by an impartial jury of the State and district" where the crime was committed, but there is no constitutional right to trial within a division.

United States v. Betancourt, 734 F.2d 750, 757 (11th Cir. 1984)