The defense team for a doctor arrested on drug charges in Orlando wants the defendant's trial moved out of Orange County. The physician is charged with drug distribution through a pill mill. Pill mills are names given to doctors or clinics that dispense addictive prescription medications -- like painkillers -- to patients who may not or do not need them.
Attorneys for the doctor argued that the attention in the local media focusing the doctor as one of several operators of other suspected Central Florida pill mills has created prejudice in the pool of possible jurors. The lawyers said local news outlets have trumpeted a pro-prosecution bias that would preclude the doctor from getting a fair trial.
The defense's change of venue request, filed earlier this year, was met with opposition from state prosecutors who claimed the jurisdictional switch was inefficient and foolish. A Circuit Court judge ruled that an attempt should be made to seat trial jurors within Orange County before considering moving jurors in from the outside.
The defense used the opportunity to read part of an article used in an Orlando Sentinel article. The piece quotes a pill mill investigator who called the untried physician and other suspects "merchants of death."
The doctor was among the first suspects to be picked up in the pill mill investigation, which began two years ago. Jury selection will kick off the Orlando doctor's trial this August.
A criminal defense attorney defends the best interests of a client. A change of venue request can be made, if the possibility exists that a trial jury could be prejudiced by excessive, biased exposure to the case.
A glut of media stories that seem to convict a defendant before guilt is established can easily influence a juror's opinion.
Jurors are screened by defense attorneys and prosecutors before selection. The Circuit Court felt that jury selection should remain within Orange County, unless an inadequate number of jurors are found who can try the physician fairly.
Source: Orlando Sentinel, "Orlando doctor accused of running pill mill wants trial's venue changed," Amy Pavuk, June 6, 2012