Frank James, who is accused of setting off a smoke bomb and lighting fire in a New York City subway vehicle, is asking to have his case transferred to Chicago. He claims that Chicago’s prospective jurors will not be fair to him, according to court papers.
James’ attorneys filed a Monday motion stating that “because of so much prejudice against Mr. James within the Eastern District New York, as shown by both public opinion polling, and unfairly prejudicial pretrial publication, a fair trial can not be held here without violating His constitutional rights.”
Federal public defender Mia EisnerGrynberg stated that potential jurors in New York “significantly prejudged James’ guilt” and were “decidely more hostile towards him than prospective jurors at a demographically similar court.”
James is seeking to be transferred to an federal court in Chicago by his lawyers, or to another District.
BROOKLYN SHOOTER FRANK JAME: JUDGE ORDERS SUSPECT HELD IN ‘PERMANENT TENTION’ PENDING TIAL
James is accused in an attack on a Brooklyn subway train, April 12th. He then used a smoke canister to fire 33 shots at “frightened passengers who had no place to run or hide” according to a detention memo. Officials claimed that 29 people were hurt, with 10 suffering gunshot wounds.
Federal charges were filed against him for committing terrorist acts or any other violent attack on a mass transport system, and for firing a gun in the course of a violent crime. If convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.
NEW YORK CITY SUBWAY SHOOTING ATTACK TIMELINE
Eisner-Grynberg referred to an emergency alert sent to “every New Yorker’s smartphone” in the morning of April 13. It stated: “WANTED FOR BROOKLYN SHOOTING: FRANK JAMES, BLACK MALE. 62 YEARS OLD. ANY INFORMATION CAN BE DIRECTED TO NYPD TIPS AT 800-577-TIPS (8477). MORE INFO & PHOTOS: NYC.GOV/NOTIFYNYC.
His photo and name were repeatedly aired on TV and in print until he was caught. Mayor Eric Adams announced via press conference that he had captured him.
The motion states that the announcement was watched by more than 4,700,000.
Eisner-Grynberg pointed to the Fifth and Sixth Amendments, and her client’s rights to fair trial by impartial jurors. She cited public opinion polls in Chicago and the Eastern District of New York that showed prospective jurors have “decidedly negative, often incorrect and fixed views about Mr. James’ guilt.”
She further argued that New York government officials enlisted “the entire potential jury pool of the Eastern District of New York into service as citizen-investigators in their hunt for Frank James, and then assured them ‘we’ got the right perpetrator: Mr. James.”
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The motion states that “all these efforts together produced a jury pool with decidedly negative, often inaccurate, and fixed views about him and, without hearing any evidence is inclined to find him guilty despite the presumption he innocence.” “Under these circumstances the Court must assume prejudice and transfer venue.”
Prosecutors have yet to respond to Eisner-Grynberg’s motion.