Sypher's attorney wants jury pool tossed out - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Sypher's attorney wants jury pool tossed out


By Bennett Haeberle WDRB-TV Fox 41 News

LOUISVILLE, KY (WDRB) -- The attorney for the woman charged with trying to extort UofL basketball coach Rick Pitino wants to strike the entire panel of potential jurors – claiming 60 percent of them have formed opinions about his client, Karen Cunagin Sypher.

Federal judge Charles Simpson said the motion needed to be submitted in writing.

One would-be juror wrote in a jury questionnaire that Sypher and Pitino were "a whore and a pig." Another said he or she believed Sypher was "guilty of blackmail."

Sypher's attorney, James Earhart, had previously pushed for a change of venue for the trial, which is set to start July 26. On Monday, he said finding an impartial jury could be problematic.

"I hope that we can get an impartial jury but due to the media coverage and exposure it's going to be difficult," he said.

The final pool of potential jurors was narrowed Tuesday to 55 -- after 38 were dismissed, including one juror seen wearing a UofL polo shirt.

Sypher is charged with trying to extort money from Pitino in exchange for her silence about their 2003 sexual encounter. Prosecutors say Sypher also threatened to "harm Pitino's reputation" with allegations Pitino raped her unless he agreed to a list of demands that included cars, tuition for her and later $10 million.

Asst. U.S. Attorney Marisa Ford criticized Fox 41 News for reporting the derogatory statements of some would-be jurors.

"Continued reporting of that information can only have the effect of affecting the defendant's right to a fair trial in this case," she said in open court.

Inside U.S. District Court where news cameras are traditionally barred, reporters have also been shunned from hearing questions of potential jurors in the extortion case of Karen Cunagin Sypher.

Judge Simpson has used white noise to prevent courtroom spectators from hearing questions of individual jurors.

An attorney for the Courier-Journal argued the jury selection process should be open. But both the judge as well as prosecutors and defense attorneys argued Sypher's right to a fair trial outweighed the needs of the news media.

Sypher has admitted that she knows the public may have a negative opinion of her.

"From the outside looking in... everyone has their opinion... I think everyone should have their opinions," she said in a May interview with Fox 41 News.



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