University of Pittsburgh

David Harris on Likelihood of Venue Change in Steubenville Rape Case

Publish Date/Time: 
January 14, 2013

Pitt Law Professor and Associate Dean for Research David Harris commented on whether a change-of-venue motion filed Friday in the rape case involving two Steubenville, Ohio, high school students will be accepted and, if so, whether it would change anything. Walter Madison, who represents 16-year-old Ma’lik Richmond, filed motions requesting a change of venue, a continuance of the trial, and that it be closed to the public and media. The trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 13. There will be no jury—the juvenile judge will decide guilt or innocence—and attorneys for both defendants have denied the charges in court. Harris believes defense attorneys will have a hard time getting the venue change because of alleged witness intimidation, and even if they do it won’t change much because the trial will be covered by the media and reported back to Steubenville.

Harris also commented on the impact social media and the involvement of “hactivist” group Anoymous have had on the case. “[Anonymous has] huge power and a huge megaphone to get the message out there. To get that message out before a trial strikes me as the end-justifies-the-means thinking. This will happen in other cases. This is not the last time we will see it.” He went on to say that people post videos, pictures, and comments on the Internet without realizing that information can be used in court. “It is just dumbfounding,” he said.

See the rest of the article in the Herald-Star here.

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