Professor Jim Richardson is the director of the Sawyer Center at UNR.
In the past he has helped public defenders in both the Priscilla Ford and Gerald Gallegos attempt to get a change of venue. Such fact gathering he says can be invaluable when it comes time to pick a jury.
"Anytime you do change of venue research to try and find out if there is bias and prejudice you end up being able to categorize people or develop ideas about types of people that are more open minded or objective about the case so that in turns out to be valuable information when you are trying to seat a jury."
Richardson says his experience and research in high profile cases tells him the more exposure to a certain case a potential juror has the tougher it is to get an impartial juror.
"The chances are much higher that they have made their mind up about the case. And so if all that publicity has been negative in tone, and that is usually the case by the way. You don't see human interest stories that make you love the defendant. Most of the stuff is horrendous and the media will contain information that is no admissible in court. And so for jurors to see this information that is not admissible in court but to have it part of the mind set is a real problem."
And that's exactly what happened in the Darren Mack case last week. Judge Doug Herndon granted a change of venue because he said it would be nearly impossible to seat a jury in Washoe County. He based his decision in part on media coverage and Mack himself being a high profile defendant in Northern Nevada.
Richardson predicts a jury will be seated in Clark County within a week. There will be the typical questions he says like how much coverage a potential juror has seen....but he says there will also be some underlying criteria both sides will be looking for,.
"The prosecution will probably prefer to have more females on the jury in a domestic violence case or in a case that involves domestic violence. The defense would like to have a lot of folks somewhat similar to Mister Mack himself in terms of social characteristics."