No Decision on Moving Komisarjevsky Trial

Joshua Komisarjevsky mugs split

Lawyers for Cheshire home invasion suspect Joshua Komisarjevsky were in court on Wednesday to try and move their client's trial out of New Haven, but the judge will not rule on Wednesday.

Komisarjevsky is accused of killing Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11 in their Cheshire home in July 2007.

Komisarjevsky's defense team argues that the pool of potential jurors in New Haven has been tainted by news coverage of the trial of co-defendant Steven Hayes and would not be able to return a fair verdict. Hayes was convicted and sentenced to death for his part in the Petit murders last year.

Dr. Steven Penrod, of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, testified on Wednesday that Stamford would a better location because fewer people have formed opinions on the case. A survey he conducted showed that 31 percent of people questioned in New Haven remember hearing about Komisarjevsky's journals, opposed to 11 percent in Stamford. 

Prosecutors are opposed to moving the trial to Fairfield County. Both sides were scheduled to argue before Judge Jon Blue in New Haven Superior Court Wednesday.

Tuesday, Judge Blue denied a defense motion to ban the "use of electronic devices by spectators...during the course of all court proceedings." Komisarjevsky's attorneys want to keep reporters from using Twitter during the upcoming trial. Twitter was used to report developments during the Hayes trial.

Among the charges against Komisarjevsky is sexual assault, and state law prohibits broadcasting, televising, recording or photographing the trial.

The defense argued that Twitter is yet another a form of broadcasting, so it should not be allowed.

Blue decided that is not the case. Broadcasting is banned from a sexual assault cases to protect the victim from having voices, photos and video of the ordeal conveyed to the world, Blue said, but reporters are allowed to be in the courtroom and access transcripts.

The court does, however, have the power to restrict electronic devices in the courtroom when they are disruptive to the court proceeding, he decided.

Part of Komisarjevsky’s defense team’s argument was that the communications tend to be trivial or inaccurate and play no useful role in educating the public about the judicial process.

“Control of the substance of courtroom reporting is not an appropriate exercise of the judicial function in a free society,” he said.

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