Congressman asks for venue change


Attorneys for U.S. Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA.) have asked a federal judge in Alexandria to reconsider a ruling denying a change of venue for his corruption trial.

Rep. Jefferson’s attorney argues that the case should be tried in Washington rather than Alexandria because there are more black jurors in the District than there are in Virginia, according to The Hill newspaper.

Jefferson, who is black, is charged in a 16-count indictment with masterminding a bribery scheme in which he allegedly elicited bribes for family members’ businesses in exchange for his assistance.

In their motion, his lawyers cited a U.S. Supreme Court decision this year that ordered a new trial for a convicted murderer because there was evidence that a prospective juror was excluded from the all-white jury for racial reasons.

The Hill reported that Jefferson’s attorneys contend most of the alleged crimes activities took place in Washington, not Northern Virginia. “The center of gravity of the case as a whole is the District of Columbia, not the Eastern District of Virginia,” the lawyers wrote in the motion.

Virginia District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III will likely consider the motion June 13, The Hill said.