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Survey says: Clarett asks for a poll



Published: Sat, September 2, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



COLUMBUS (AP) -- Defense attorneys want a public opinion poll to determine if an impartial jury can be seated for Maurice Clarett's robbery trial later this month.

The intense publicity surrounding the case and Clarett's recent arrest following a traffic stop make it impossible for the former Ohio State running back to receive a fair trial in Franklin County, his attorneys claim. In a motion requesting the poll, they ask the court for funds to pay for it.

"Mr. Clarett is being held in jail without bail and is without sufficient financial resources to privately engage the services of a reputable public-opinion polling and research firm," attorney Michael Hoague wrote in the motion filed Wednesday.

Prosecutors oppose the motion, calling it inadmissible and against court procedure.

The county shouldn't have to pay for any polling because Clarett has not proven to the court that he cannot pay for his own defense, County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien said.

Clarett's attorneys can still file a traditional change of venue request, in which case the judge would ask potential jurors questions and determine if the case can be fairly tried in the county.

"A judge makes the determination if there's a sufficient number of jurors that can be fair and impartial," O'Brien said. "Public opinion polls really don't belong in the courtroom."

O'Brien expects Common Pleas Judge David Fais to rule on the motion at a pretrial status hearing scheduled for next week.

Clarett is awaiting trial on charges accusing him of robbing two people of a cell phone outside a bar early on New Year's Day. That trial is scheduled to start Sept. 18.

He also was arrested Aug. 9 after a police chase and charged with carrying a concealed weapon.




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