Will Sheila Dixon be tried in Baltimore?
Since Sheila Dixon's indictment last week, there's been a lot of chatter on this blog and elsewhere about whether a Baltmiore City jury would be objective in a trial of a popular mayor, with many people, including some savvy attorneys, saying she would have a huge home court advantage.
Now, there's no guarantee that a trial will ever actually happen (Dixon's lawyers are trying to get the whole thing thrown out, a standard move in such situations that may or may not be successful; alternatively, she could always enter a plea if her odds look bad), but the consensus is that there's little chance that the venue would be changed. Veteran legal affairs reporter Julie Bykowicz did some asking around on the issue and tells me:
- Venue changes are almost always requested by the defense, which would have no incentive to ask for one in this case.
- Prosecutors can request a venue change, but it would likely look bad for a white, Republican prosecutor from the 'burbs to ask to move the trial of a black, female, Democratic mayor out of the city. The people of Baltimore were qualified to judge her during the election; why not in court?
- A judge would have to grant such a request if the prosecutor made it, and it would definitely be bad politics for a judge who has to be re-elected at some point by the voters of Baltimore to imply that those same voters are incapable of rendering fair judgment in a high-profile case.