Huguely lawyers: Media coverage could unjustly influence jurors


Attorneys for former UVA student George Huguely, charged with murder following the death of fellow UVA student, lacrosse player and ex-girlfriend Yeardley Love, recently filed motions to prohibit televised coverage of the trial. They also moved to introduce a questionnaire, currently sealed, to gauge whether jurors may have been influenced by coverage of Love’s death and reports about Huguely, including stories published in this paper. The documents are available here.

A medical records hearing previously scheduled for Monday, November 7, will now likely include discussion of motions brought by Huguely’s attorneys to assess media impact and potentially restrict future coverage. According to documents, audio-visual coverage of the trial could be obtrusive for attorneys and risky for jurors, who might face a "substantial risk" of being filmed. The Virginia Broadcasting Corporation will attend Monday’s hearing to move for permission to film the trial.

Prosecution agreed to allow Huguely and his defense attorneys to submit a questionnaire to gauge media influence on juror perspectives. The questionnaire, which is currently being reviewed by the Charlottesville Circuit Court, is sealed, and may be retracted by defense if the court decides it may be unsealed.

Defense’s reasoning? Local press, Richmond and Washington news sources have contributed "over 600 reports…since May 3, 2010." The filing cites multiple C-VILLE stories, which you may read here. It also quantifies the online dissemination of news about both Huguely and Love:

"A ‘Google’ search of the name ‘George Huguely’ produces about 304,000 hits; a search of the name ‘Yeardley Love’ produces about 654,000 hits; and a search of the term ‘lacrosse murder’ produces about 3,630,000 hits."

Defense attorneys conclude that it is "practically unthinkable" that jurors would not have been exposed to some media coverage. Of course, if you’re reading this, you’ve already been exposed to some coverage. So, tell us what you think: Should Huguely’s trial be televised?