Pitt Law Professor John Burkoff Comments to Cleveland Plain Dealer On Heartless Felons Trial Security
Can excessive security in a courtroom negatively influence a jury? It's a matter for defense attorneys in the Heartless Felons case in Cleveland as they seek a new trial. Pitt Law Professor John Burkoff offered expert opinion to the Cleveland Plain Dealer this week in the story, "Citing excessive security, attorneys for convicted Heartless Felons leader seek new trial" where defense attorneys for Heartless Felon's leader Julius Webster say Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Michael Astrab abused his discretion during the trial that ended Feb. 9. Defense attorneys said the excess security gave an unfair image of Webster to the jury.'
Burkoff called the security issue a judicial balancing act.
"The judge has the right and the obligation to make sure the witnesses are safe in his courtroom,'' Burkoff said to the Plain Dealer. "But at the same time he can't prejudice the jury in which he basically says, 'This person is so scary that we have to do this.'"