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Analysis with Lisa Bloom of Court TV

Aired July 2, 2003 - 19:01   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We begin with news of a change in venue for Lee Boyd Malvo. He and John Allen Mohammed are alleged to have killed 11 people that spread from the nation's capital to Richmond, Virginia. A judge ordered Malvo's trial for shooting a woman outside a Home Depot store, moved out of Fairfax County. The trial is now set to take place in Chesapeake, Virginia and that's where we find Patty Davis where she filed this report.

PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The talk of this military town has been the war in Iraq. Come November, the town's focus will likely be on 18-year-old sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo. A Virginia judge moved Malvo's trial far from Fairfax, to Chesapeake, Virginia in search of fairness in the publicity laden case. In making her decision Judge Jane Marun Roush cited news reports about the stress, fear and anxiety residents in the Washington Richmond corridor endured last October. Fairfax prosecutor Robert Horan says it will be a logistical nightmare.

ROBERT HORAN, FAIRFAX CO. COMMONWEALTH ATTORNEY: It's far more expensive because almost all the witnesses are from the metropolitan area of Washington.

DAVIS: Chesapeake officials lobbied against it.

MAYOR WILLIAM WARD, CHESAPEAKE, VIRGINIA: This will disrupt, to a degree, the normal flow of activities here at city hall as it relates to parking, a potential safety issues, certainly the costs.

DAVIS: The Chesapeake' new courthouse, one of the largest Virginia, has only one way in and out. Some worry that's a recipe for maker log jam. But it does have a secure tunnel to ferry Malvo from jail to court. A fact that may have helped sway the judge. The town of 205,000 named one of the safest towns in America by the FBI, isn't used to the type of media coverage the case will generate.

ANDREW TROTOGYROU, LOCAL ATTORNEY: We've had capital cases before. We've had serious cases. But we haven't had something that's attracted this much attention.

DAVIS: As for choosing jurors, last October's snipers attacks were front page news here, too. With the highest concentration of military in the U.S. the jury pool is considered very conservative. But local criminal attorney Andy Trotogyrou, says race could play a role. TROTOGYROU: You're going to find that you have a jury pool that's going to be about 28, 29 percent will be black, African- American, and Fairfax I understand it's perhaps 5 percent. Not to say that they're going to be any more lenient on crime, but they may listen to the portion of the case closer that deals with his background and how he was raised.


DAVIS: If convicted, Malvo could get the death penalty, so could his alleged accomplish, John Mohammed. Now, Mohammed's attorneys have also asked for a change of venue, but the judge has not ruled on that case yet -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Patty Davis thanks very much.

We want to cover the legal aspects of this change of venue.

What exactly does that mean?

I'm joined by CNN's legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and Court TV's Lisa Bloom, thanks for being with us.

Lisa, a prosecutor in this said he was surprised by the change of venue.

Were you?

LISA BLOOM, COURT TV: I wasn't surprised. There were 15 "Washington Post" articles that were cited by the judge talking about the atmosphere of fear that was created in Fairfax. And that everyone in Fairfax was a victim.

How could they get a fair trial in Fairfax for Malvo. Seems only fair to move the trial somewhere else.

COOPER: But Jeffery, that's basicly what defense was arguing. They said that everyone in this whole Washington/Richmond corridor was a victim.

The prosecutor said this raises victim hood to like a whole new level. People don't even know they are victims and they are victims.

JEFFERY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think the defense was clearly right here. You have situation in most crimes where people follow it closely the Laci Peterson case in Modesto, obviously people are very much involved, but they don't fear being a victim in the same way. Here you had virtually every person in the whole Washington suburbs thinking, you know, this guy could be after me next. I think the judge had to move it away from there. I don't think it's any great victory for Malvo.

COOPER: But it had to, by law it had to remain in the state of Virginia.

BLOOM: Yes, that's right. It wasn't just a feared being victim. They were victims. You remember people changed their behaviors. They kept their children home, they locked down schools. People significantly changed their conduct as a result of what was going on last October.

COOPER: What does it mean for the trial in your opinion?

TOOBIN: It's somewhat better for Malvo, but I mean no one should be under the impression this is going to get him to walk out the door. People are no more sympathetic to alleged serial killers in Chesapeake than in Fairfax. It's a conservative jury pool. Potentially more African-American jury pool might help in the penalty phase if it gets to that, but I still think Lee Boyd Malvo remains in a world of trouble.

COOPER: This was a gamble on the part of the defense because, I mean, they really didn't know. It could have gone to some other place that was even more conservative than Chesapeake is said to be.

BLOOM: Well, that's right. And what's interesting in this story in is how Chesapeake does not want this trial. The city council said we don't want it. Local judges said we don't want it. Nevertheless it's going there. And a high-profile trial places a huge strain on a local courthouse. It remains to be seen whether Chesapeake can handle it.

COOPER: It means, at least that I'll probably be there -- which is a strain in and of it's self.


BLOM: There will be media tents. There will be separate rooms set up for the press in high-profile cases. A town 200,000 that's a lot.


TOOBIN: today.

COOPER: Better get Turner travel on that today right away.

Is there any way, I guess he could have argued if the change of venue wasn't granted might have been a grounds for appeal.

TOOBIN: It certainly would have been. This is not an issue that could have been ducked. This is such an unusual situation with the community so involved. Ironically it might hurt Malvo. Might have been better to have this appeal in his pocket rather than getting the change of venue because no community is sympathetic to this kind of crime.

COOPER: John Allen Mohammed charged with another shooting at Manassas, Virginia.

Do you think he will gate a change of venue?

BLOOM: He may very well get a change of venue too, but the real problem is the dates of these trials are so very close together. That's going to be a problem for everyone. I would expect one is going to get continued. It's the same rifle that's going to come into evidence in both trails, same prosecutors, many of the law enforcement officers. I think logistic very difficult to have these trials so close together.

TOOBIN: And the legal system loves nothing more than a little delay. So, I don't think there'll be a problem with gets a little delay.

COOPER: You're always a cynic, Jeffrey.

TOOBIN: No I am not.

COOPER: All right. Lisa Bloom, Jeffrey Toobin, thanks very much.


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