Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Judge denies ex-trustee's request to bring in out-of-town jury for trial

A Knox County Criminal Court judge denied a request by former long-time Trustee Mike Lowe to bring in potential jurors from another locale to hear his felony theft trial when in begins in early April.

Judge Steven Sword, in an order issued Tuesday, said he reviewed some 96 newspaper and television articles submitted by the defense, and he felt the “vast majority of the evidence” against Lowe “has not been publicized.”

He also noted that the majority of coverage reflected the actual development of court proceedings and “is not a case by its nature that involves information that would tend to appeal to the prurient interests of the public.”

“In other words, there are no ‘gory details’ that would tend to excite passions,” Sword wrote. “There is a greater danger of losing the interests of the jurors than invoking passion against the defendant.”

Lowe’s attorney, Gregory P. Isaacs, on Monday argued that "pervasive and inflammatory" media coverage and his client's "unique name dynamic" will prevent him from getting a fair trial if local residents sit on the jury.

The state, however, disagreed, saying attorneys had no problem last August when they selected a panel to hear a trial for one of Lowe's co-defendants.

At the time, only a handful of people even recognized Lowe's name, the state said.
Sword agreed.

“A jury was chosen within a half-day and none of the extra jurors were needed,” he wrote. “The court expects selection of the jury to proceed in a similar manner in Mr. Lowe’s trial.”

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