A state court judge denied various motions from the attorney for Mayor Eddie Perez Tuesday, clearing the way for jury selection in his corruption trial to begin in Hartford next week. WNPR’s Jeff Cohen reports.
Perez was arrested twice last year and charged with bribery and attempted extortion by the state. On Tuesday, his attorney Hubert Santos told Superior Court Judge Julia Dewey that he feared pre-trial publicity would make it hard to get an impartial jury with minority representation in Hartford.
“What makes this particularly difficult in terms of picking the jury is that the defendant has been the subject of unrelenting publicity for the last three years, all of which has been of the negative nature,” Santos said. “The chance of getting minority representation on this jury is greatly diminished by the fact that there has been this ongoing prejudicial publicity.”
Prosecutor Michael Gailor told Dewey that he wouldn’t characterize the publicity as unrelenting, saying that press coverage since the mayor’s arrest has been virtually non-existent. Santos also asked to have the option to move the trial out of Hartford after the jury is selected.
“Jury selection is the barometer by which the court can gauge whether or not the case has to be moved to another judicial district,” Santos said.
“So you want me to go through the entire jury selection, and then void it,” Dewey asked.
“Right,” Santos replied.
Gailor, the prosecutor, wasn't persuaded.
“Counsel is trying to have his cake and eat it, too. He wants to go through the jury selection, see if he likes the jury, and if he doesn't like it, he wants to move it elsewhere. If he likes it, he says, okay, I want to go to trial.”
Judge Dewey wasn’t persuaded, either, and denied Santos on this and other motions. Jury selection in the trial begins next week and could last four weeks. The trial could begin in mid-May and last through June.
For WNPR, I’m Jeff Cohen.