In his ruling today Judge Doug Herndon said he had started to get discouraged after yesterday's jury selection session.
A juror selected on the previous day had to be dismissed, and only one prospective juror had made the cut on Wednesday...it appeared no progress was being made.
And according to the prosecutor Christopher Lalli it appeared that way to him as well.
"Yesterday was disappointing there was little progress is any."
Which is why Lalli was not surprised with today's ruling. For the defense it's a huge step in ensuring their client Darren Mack will get a fair trail.
Scott Freeman Darren Mack's Attorney says they may face the same challenges in Clark County however.
"Test of what the media is in Las Vegas as well. The judge said, and we believe very confidently that we are going to find the jurors in Las Vegas."
Judge Herndon was given another change of venue motion on Monday before jury selection ever got underway.In that motion the defense said combine pre-trial publicity and the population base here in Washoe County, statistically there was no way the court would be able to find 35-in partial people for a potential jury pool.
"I think he moved it it Las Vegas as a last resort. But that was after three days of working through potentially 100,000 people. Anyone can second quess the judge, but he should have taken a litte more time to see if they could have found an impartial jury. I think you could." That is what Journalism Professor Warren Lerude said about the change of venue decision today.
Lerude teaches media law and was the former editor of the Reno Gazette for more than a decade. He is able to point to several sensational cases here in Northern Nevada where a change of venue was not granted. Judge Herndon pointed to some of those same murder cases in his ruling today. Priscilla Ford convicted of killing six people when she ran her car down the sidewalks of Virginia Street on Thanksgiving Day. Gerald Gallegos tried in Lovelock Nevada to the kidnapping and killing to two teenagers as part of a sex slave fantasy. Michael Sonner convicted of killing an N-H-P officer during a stop. A change of venue was asked in all of these cases, but denied.
This case is different Herndon says because unlike Ford, Gallegos, and Sonner, Mack himself was well known in Reno, and if not him...his family business Palace Pawn, and his family alone..it was becoming evident he said an impartial jury here in Washoe County would become nearly impossible to seat.
Ironically while Judge Herndon used case law which dates back to the 19-80's to base his decision. But the most compelling arguement came from a case dating to 1907.
In State versus Dwyer he said the court overtuend a conviction becasue a change of venue was *not* granted. In that ruling Nevada's Supreme Court said, "the min should be free of excitement--removed from prejudices and feelings of others."
Cal Dunlap who prosecuted the Ford case says it took two weeks to seat a jury in that case. He believes the same could have been done here if the judge had taken more time.
Tom Perkins who defended Gerald Gallegos in Lovelock applauded Herdon's decision saying it took courage. Perkins says today's decision shows the judge's primary concern is a fair trial for Darren Mack.