The following is an excerpt from the conclusion of Judge Sedwick in his denial of Vic. Kohring's motion for a change of venue in his corruption case. Most of us probably understood this already, but it is still a little jarring to see it in writing and about our local audience.
The fact is that the public at large is simply not as attuned to local news as it was in an earlier era when Irwin was decided or when the news accounts were published which were considered in Daniels -- the case was decided in 2005, but dealt with a media reports from the early 1980s.
To put it bluntly, a surprising number of prospective jurors are just not interested in, and do not follow, local news. Many don’t even read local newspapers. Many do not watch the local news on television. Among those who do read the newspaper, many simply glance at the local news headlines while moving on to areas of interest such as sports or gardening. Many who watch television are looking for entertainment programs, not local news.
To be sure, there are still many citizens who seek to stay informed about local events, but the tacit assumption that there is nearly universal interest in local news which underpins cases like Irwin and Daniels is an increasingly questionable assumption. While this court is not, of course, free to ignore the teaching of cases like Irwin and Daniels, it does suggest that this court should be especially mindful of the admonition that prejudice may be presumed only in extreme cases where a community is literally saturated with inflammatory and prejudicial publicity. That is not the situation with respect to the community from which Kohring’s jury will be drawn.