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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: East Bay | Police State and Prisons | Racial Justice
Who leaked information about Mehserle's change of venue? Los Angeles or San Diego? Next hearing Nov 19th
Who leaked inside information to the corporate media about the latest reported development regarding the change of venue decision? At Johannes Mehserle's bail hearing in January, Judge Morris Jacobson issued an unambiguous gag order on the case that applied to the defense team as well as the DA, yet information keeps leaking out. Defense attorney Michael Rains has vociferously protested the gag order at every opportunity because he would love nothing more than to freely release whatever he thinks is favorably prejudicial to Mehserle's defense.
Community activists have long believed that Michael Rains has used his many court filings and appearances as vehicles beyond their purported intent in order to influence public attitudes towards Mehserle's defense or to be inflammatory to community sensibilities. The corporate media usually regurgitates whatever Rains writes in his motions and says in hearings with little to no critical analysis or inclusion of the many controverting facts revealed in the case. Oftentimes, Rains' written motions to the court are reported in the corporate media virtually simultaneously with their public release from the Alameda County Superior Court, leading to the obvious conclusion that he is supplying such documents directly to the press himself (although that might not be a direct violation of the gag order since the documents become public at about the same time). At other times, anonymous sourcing for inside information on the case indeed appears to be coming from Rains, or someone inside the court system, because corporate reporters will call Oscar Grant's family members to confirm or deny what their secretive sources have told them. This is how on numerous occasions the family has come to learn about facts and decisions made in the case. Ironically, Judge Jacobson cited the large number of media reports as one reason for moving the venue out of Alameda County without acknowledging that many if not most of the stories related to the murder of Oscar Grant are either parroting Rains' motions directly or sourced from someone violating the gag order.
This time, prior to any official update regarding the state court tasked with determining venue possibilities, details on venue selection have been made public via corporate media outlets. After the venue change was ordered on October 16th, the California Administrative Office of the Courts in San Francisco was to narrow a list of potential venues, present their recommendations to Judge Jacobson in private, and then Jacobson would choose the final venue from their selections and make a public announcement. This week, though, it became known that the potential venues recommended to Judge Jacobson were narrowed down to Los Angeles and San Diego counties, neither of which match the demographics of Alameda yet are more desirable to activists for justice than rural counties with no racial diversity.
KTVU reported the following on November 2nd without naming their sources:
Mehserle Trial Likely Headed For Southern California Posted: 9:48 pm PST November 2, 2009 | Updated: 11:34 pm PST November 2, 2009 OAKLAND, Calif. -- KTVU obtained exclusive new information Monday night about the change of venue plans for the upcoming trial of a former BART police officer accused of murdering Oscar Grant that would move the controversial case to Southern California. KTVU reporter Rita Williams has learned from three unnamed sources that only two locations are currently being considered for that change of venue. Neither of them is close to the Bay Area. According to the sources, the only two choices the state judicial council gave the Alameda County judge who has to pick where to move the murder trial of former BART Police officer Johanes Mehserle were Los Angeles County and San Diego County.Likewise, the San Francisco Chronicle jumped into the fray the very next day, without revealing their sources either:
Mehserle trial headed to Southern California? Demian Bulwa, Chronicle Staff Writer (11-03) 17:21 PST OAKLAND -- State court officials have recommended Los Angeles and San Diego counties as possible sites for the murder trial of former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle, sources said Tuesday.Without delay, the information became fodder for the entire corporate media food chain and reports are appearing based on other corporate reports:
Mehserle murder trial may move to Southern California STAFF REPORT | Posted: 11/03/2009 09:04:36 PM PST | Updated: 11/03/2009 09:21:17 PM PST OAKLAND — State court officials have recommended Los Angeles and San Diego counties to host the murder trial of former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle, several local news agencies reported. The two counties were the only choice the state Administrative Office of the Courts gave the Alameda County judge who will select where to move the trial, according to reports from KTVU, KCBS and the San Francisco Chronicle.And just to make the point abundantly clear...
BART Officer's Shooting Trial Could Come To L.A. By Dennis Romero in City News | Wed., Nov. 4 2009 @ 12:09PM The trial of a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) officer accused of murdering an arrestee could come to Los Angeles after a state's Administrative Office of the Courts suggested the move following a judge's ruling that the suspect probably can't get a fair jury in Alameda County.... His attorneys prefer another possible location -- San Diego -- and the family of Grant wants the trial to come to L.A., according to the San Francisco Chronicle.If Judge Jacobson ever intends to actually call a hearing to investigate and enforce the gag order remains to be seen. If not, then we can expect the local corporate media in the eventual venue county to similarly fall prey to whatever juicy leaks are provided by "anonymous" sources.
Had the corporate media simply waited a few days for an official announcement, though, they could have reported what became known today instead of being tools for violations of the gag order. It became public knowledge late in the day that Judge Jacobson has decided to hold a hearing later this month before the final venue selection. Yes, it will be a choice between LA and San Diego as recommended by the California Administrative Office of the Courts. The hearing is set for Thursday, November 19th at 2:30pm, and the two venue options will be debated by defense and prosecuting attorneys before Judge Jacobson issues his ruling. While it is unfair to Oscar Grant's family and the community to move the venue in the first place, Los Angeles is much preferred to the more politically conservative (i.e. pro-police) San Diego county in order for a truly fair trial to be conducted. Additionally, placing on Oscar Grant's family the huge burden of relocating as far south as San Diego for Mehserle's benefit in what is expected to be a trial lasting several months would represent yet another injustice in their lives.