Lawyers for Darrell Brooks say he can't get a fair trial in Waukesha County, want venue change

NOW: Lawyers for Darrell Brooks say he can’t get a fair trial in Waukesha County, want venue change

WAUKESHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Lawyers for a man accused of driving an SUV into the Waukesha Christmas Parade in 2021 are concerned their client will be unable to get a fair trial if it is held with jurors from Waukesha County.

Court documents show lawyers representing Darrell Brooks want a change of venue for their client's trial.

In those documents, lawyers point to questionnaires sent to potential jurors. Of more than 1,500 responses, 46% of potential jurors said they witnessed the incident in question or knew someone who witnessed it.

"When you have hard numbers-driven data and numbers based on actual jurors responses, I think that's pretty compelling," Julius Kim, an attorney and legal expert at Kim & LaVoy, told CBS 58.

On top of that, the lawyers said other respondents have been exposed to wide coverage of the incident in the press, have attended prayer vigils, donated to victims' funds or are part of social media groups in support of victims.

Because of those factors, lawyers said their client is in need of a change of venue.

"A defendant has to show that there is a reasonable likelihood that he or she can't receive a fair trial," Kim said. "And that is just a standard that the judge has to make a judgement call on."

But the state argued in documents the reasons brought up by Brooks' lawyers does not meet the standard to change a venue. They said what is more important is the questioning of a potential juror pool to ask if they are able to set aside what they have heard before the trial and only listen and consider facts presented at the trial.

Kim added if the judge does not want to move the trial out of Waukesha County and does not want to have jurors from within the county sit in the trial, there is another path.

"Bring a jury in from a different county and that is one that to me makes more sense, it makes economic sense quite frankly," Kim said. "And it offers the same protection that the defendant is looking for and that the court quite frankly is looking for."

A hearing on the motion for a change of venue is scheduled for Monday, June 20.

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