AUSTIN — It’s rare for a judge in Texas to move a criminal trial, and even less common to move it because the jury might be biased in favor of the accused.
That’s what makes the decision to move Ken Paxton’s upcoming trials out of Collin County so unusual. He joins the ranks of a handful of others who lost the chance to be tried in their backyard because of a real or perceived home-field advantage.
“The famous one was Bernie,” said criminal defense attorney Toby Shook, referring to convicted murderer Bernie Tiede. Well-liked at home in the small East Texas town of Carthage and lionized in Richard Linklater’s 2011 film Bernie, Tiede saw his second murder trial moved after prosecutors argued the jury pool could be tainted in his favor.
“It’s hard to get a change of venue granted if the other side’s opposing it,” Shook said, noting the decision is entirely up to the presiding judge. “Having the prosecution ask for a change of venue is even more rare.”