Defense counsel for the third defendant in a child sex ring case in Tyler has filed a motion to transfer venue. The first two defendants had been convicted in highly-publicized trials. So nothing unusual yet in the motion to transfer venue. In the motion, defense counsel alleges that news coverage has been biased against his client because the assistant DA set to try the case has been in relationships with local print and television reporters. Ah, there’s the unusual.
Tex. R. Evid. 614, aka “the Rule” comes into play because all of the reporters in town know about the relationships and are potential witnesses. Defense counsel invokes “the Rule” and asks that all of these reporters be excluded from the hearing on the motion to transfer venue. Which would mean that no one could cover the story. Which is why the trial judge (the former Smith County DA) lifts the Rule as to the reporters, regardless of any knowledge they have of the assistant DA’s personal relationships.
As you might imagine, the Smith County legal community is debating the wisdom of defense counsel’s approach. I’ll save my comments, if any, until I know more than what I read in the newspaper.