Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Monday, August 14, 2006

Campa: Cuban Spies Tried in Fair Venue

In U.S. v. Campa, No. 01-17176 (Aug. 9, 2006) (en banc), the Court, reversing the prior panel decision, held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying a change of venue in the "Cuban spy trial," and remanded the case to the panel for adjudication of the other issues raised on appeal by the defendants.
Noting the "extremely heavy" burden of defendants who seek to establish presumed pretrial publicity, the Court found that the newspaper articles were too remote in time to show that the trial was "utterly corrupted by press coverage." Further, the Court agreed with the district court that a voter survey was too ambiguous to be reliable. In addition, the Court found that the voir dire was a "model" for a high-profile case, which rebutted any claim of prejudice. During the trial, the trial court "fiercely guarded the jury from outside intrusions."
The Court also rejected the defendant’s reliance, as the basis for a motion for a new trial, on the government’s own arguments in an employment case, in which the government argued that the Elian Gonzalez case had so inflamed views in Miami-Dade as to make a fair trial impossible there. The Court found that the doctrine of judicial estoppel did not undermine the government’s different positions in the two cases.