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I was arrested on charges in North Carolina. During the ongoing investigation, but prior to trial, the local news ran a piece showing my mug shot. They didn't say my name, but did say some bad things about me, and what was allegedly found on my property.

This was done a few weeks before jury selection, and I am worried that my potential jury has already judged me before the trial.

Is it legal and/or proper for the news station to do this? Does this impact my ability to get a fair trial?

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There's nothing illegal about the media discussing your case. In fact most media outlets don't hold back many details about the accused, because it's all public information that anyone curious about it can get from the court clerk's office for free and with no reason specified.

If jury selection hasn't started yet, then asking each juror about what they might know about the case is a pretty standard question that any competent defense attorney would be asking, even without knowledge of media coverage. If they already know about the case and say they can't put that knowledge aside when rendering a verdict, they are almost always dismissed. If you're concerned your defense attorney isn't aware of the media coverage, that's something you need to bring up with them.

If jury selection already took place, and nobody bothered to ask them if they had prior knowledge of the case, then there's pretty much nothing you can do. A judge might ask the jury if anyone's seen the coverage, but it usually results in nothing happening. The media talking about your case is not grounds for a mistrial; it's rarely even grounds for a change of venue. Getting a mistrial would require you to prove a specific juror engaged in misconduct somehow.

  • I highly recommend finding a copy of the Martin Skreli trial's jury voir dire. The responses from potential jurists that were dismissed for having to much information about the man to remain unbiased. One jurist could remain impartial about the case, but couldn't about Skreli because of unrelated behavior he displayed over some Rap Memorabilia. – hszmv Aug 14 at 17:03
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Not just legal precedence, but the 6th amendment to the constitution of the United States.

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

Your defence attorney should address this with the judge.

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    Most likely, all that's going to happen is that the judge asks the jury pool in voir dire whether they can be impartial jurors, they'll say yes and there you go. – pboss3010 Aug 14 at 11:46
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    @pboss3010 - That's likely. So long as the judge is made aware that it's a potential issue. – GeoffAtkins Aug 14 at 11:48

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