Friday, November 9, 2007
Wesley Snipes Seeks Change of Venue in Tax Fraud Trial from Ocala, FL to NYC to Avoid "Hotbed of Klan Activity"
From the Smoking Gun:
In a bid to get his criminal tax evasion trial transferred from Florida to New York, Wesley Snipes claims that prosecutors "deliberately chose the most racially discriminatory venue available," an area that the actor claims is a "hotbed of Klan activity" and where "substantial pockets of prejudice exist."
In a venue change motion filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Ocala, Snipes claims that government lawyers are angling to get an "all-white Southern jury" to hear its case against the 45-year-old performer. According to the November 5 Snipes motion, the Ocala area features statues honoring the KKK founder, and the hate group "adopted highways to commemorate the Klan." Additionally, he adds, "the Confederate Flag flies over government property."
To support the claim that he faces a possible judicial lynching, Snipes commissioned a public opinion poll comparing racial attitudes in the Ocala area and his preferred judicial jurisdiction, the Southern District of New York (which includes Manhattan, The Bronx, and a few outlying counties). The survey report, a copy of which you'll find here, includes New York-Florida comparisons on topics like interracial marriage, race-based hiring preferences, and whether the Confederate flag is a symbol of pride, not prejudice. Oh, and when asked whether burning a cross on someone's lawn should be a federal crime, the Snipes poll found that 23.8% of Ocala residents replied "No." That's compared to 13.2% of New Yorkers polled. Though a previous Snipes venue change bid was rejected, a federal judge recently allowed the refiling of motions after the actor fired his entire legal team for what he claimed was incompetence.
Other press and blogosphere coverage:
- Associated Press: Snipes Alleges Racism in Tax Trial
- E! Online: Snipes Replays Race Card in Tax Trial
- FOX News: Wesley Snipes Files to Move Tax Trial From "Racist" Locale
- The Hollywood Reporter: Snipes Wants Diverse Jury for Tax Trial
- Roth & Company: The Two-Track Snipes Defense
- Tax Girl: Snipes’ Attorney Claims He Can’t Get a Fair Trial in Racist Ocala
- WSJ Law Blog: Wesley Snipes Wants Change of Venue in Tax Fraud Case