July 30, 2014

Florida Law

Shopping for Verdicts

Florida's Middle District is well-regarded, and juries there are known are being conservative. That makes the district attractive for high-profile cases.

Art Levy | 10/1/2008

Paul Little
Three attempts to prosecute John Gotti Jr. in New York ended in mistrials. Prosecutors have steered his latest trial to Tampa. [Photo: Louis Lanzano/AP Photo]
So what’s the attraction of Florida’s Middle District, which has hosted so many big trials in recent years, including the Little trial in Tampa and actor Wesley Snipes’ trial in Ocala? For one, says McWhorter, Middle District juries have a reputation of being more conservative, more trusting of authorities, than most. Plus, McWhorter says the district is known for being well-run. “The Middle District of Florida has exceptionally good judges, very sophisticated, very intelligent judges,” she says.

Whatever the prosecutors’ motivation, it worked for them in the Little case. The Tampa jury found Little and his company guilty of 20 counts of selling obscene materials over the internet and mailing obscene materials by U.S. mail. Little faces 100 years in prison. His attorneys plan to appeal.

Facebook as Lie Detector

Jury consultants routinely refer to the latest research on demographics and human behavior, but their success ultimately depends on one question: Is the prospective juror telling the truth? Amy Singer, president and CEO of Trial Consultants in Fort Lauderdale, says the internet has become a valuable fact-checking tool for jury consultants. “We ask them certain questions, like whether they have a website, whether they have a blog, if they have a MySpace page,” Singer says. “Then, if it’s public, we can really look at those things and see what the people are really, really like — and who their friends are and what their friends are like. If the web provides you with enough information for some people to decide to marry each other, it provides you with enough information to be able to make a more intelligent decision about selecting jurors.”

Tags: Politics & Law, Central, Tampa Bay, Government/Politics & Law

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