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Opening Arguments

Justice on the move

Allen County is getting one of the hottest trials in years:

A judge moved the trial of an Indianapolis police officer accused of causing a fatal 2010 crash by driving drunk to Fort Wayne on Thursday.

David Bisard is charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, reckless homicide and criminal recklessness in the 2010 crash that killed 30-year-old Eric Wells and injured two others. If convicted, Bisard could face 20 or more years in prison.

A hearing in the case is scheduled for March 8 before Allen County Superior Court Judge John Surbeck.

In an order issued Thursday, Judge Grant Hawkins said that even more than two years after the accident, the case was still generating too much ongoing publicity in central Indiana for Bisard to get a fair trial there.

"Ongoing publicity" is an understatement. I visit my sister in Indy only once or twice a month, but I must have seen dozens of news reports on this case.

My sense about changes of venue is that they're usually not granted merely because of publcity -- the case is fairly well-known even here, for example. They're usually granted for a certain type of publicity that fans the flames of public emotion and leaves few people without an opinion of the case. This case has generated that type of publicity, I think. Many of the stories over the last two years have been about how the cop almost got off because of unbelievable mishandling of the blood-alcohol evidence. "Of course they screwed it up on purpose so they could protect one of their own" was a typical comment you heard. Hard to get an impartial jury with that kind of sentiment floating around.