It should surprise no one that the attorneys for the two men charged with the massacre at the Wendy's in downtown Flushing want the trial moved to a different venue. Citing massive pretrial publicity, the lawyers for John Taylor and Craig Godineaux argued that the jury pool in Queens has been "hopelessly tainted."
There is no question that this brutal and senseless murder has shocked the people of this borough more than any crime in recent memory. It will not be easy to find jurors who have not heard a great deal about this case. Even those people who make a point of not paying attention to the news will be familiar with the story. It is also true that the killing of five innocent people has struck a collective nerve. We all feel a little more vulnerable. We all felt a pain for the families of the victims.
But it should also not be impossible to find 12 people ready and willing to impartially judge the facts in this case. This is not a small town. There are plenty of people living here who have no connection to Flushing. Unlike the shooting of Amadou Diallo in the Bronx, race and community anger should not be factors in the Wendy's trial. The attorney did request a jurisdiction with an economic and racial demographic like that of Queens. We can't imagine where that place is. In fact, the ethnic diversity of the borough should make it easier to create an acceptable jury pool.
In weighing the request for change of venue, the court must consider not only the rights of the defendants, but also the right of the community to engage in the judicial process. It is regrettable that video cameras are no longer permitted in New York courts. The people have the right to see this process unfold. Unless the attorneys for these two defendants can come up with a convincing and unforeseen argument, we urge the court to keep the trial here.
We have in the past used this space to urge our readers to go fishing on Election Day. More often than not, voting in Queens is an exercise in futility. Those who say, "Every vote counts," can't do math. But this coming Tuesday we take it all back.
This year, every vote really does count. The presidential race and the race for U.S. Senate in New York are hanging by a thread. In both races, the candidates offer the voter a clear choice in terms of issues, personality and character. There are even a few local races where your vote might count, although not many.
This is one of those rare times in Queens when it is really worth going to the polls.