In a recent court filing, Jen Shah asked the judge to dismiss her case, claiming that she cannot receive a fair trial.
Her claim was that all of this press, especially a recent documentary, had tained the pool of prospective jurors beyond repair.
On Friday, the judge denied her motion to dismiss.
Jen will have to defend herself in court as planned — whether she likes it or not.
On November 30, Jen Shah’s attorney filed to dismiss the case against the The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City star.
The recent Hulu documentary on Jen’s arrest and the fraud charges was thorough.
So thorough, her legal team asserted, that it deprived her of her legal right to a fair trial.
The The Housewife & The Shah Shocker documentary included interviews with two agents of Homeland Security Investigations.
These agents shared information that was not previously publicly available.
Viewers also heard some of their opinions on Jen’s “lavish lifestyle,” alongside the word “fraudsters.”
Jen’s attorney characterized this as a flagrant attempt to “poison the jury pool.”
Certainly, the word “fraudster” would likely not be permitted during most if any of a criminal trial.
The argument made in the motion to dismiss was that any prospective juror might have seen the documentary or simply heard the opinion repeated.
There’s a line between a juror directly viewing a documentary and influencing the overall opinions of an entire population.
Shah’s attorney didn’t seem to see it that way.
“Their behavior has destroyed any chance that Ms. Shah will have a fair trial with an impartial jury,” Jen’s attorney protested.
On Friday, a federal judge shut down the motion to dismiss.
“Dismissal of an indictment is an extreme sanction that is to be utilized only in the rare case,” wrote Judge Sidney H. Stein.
“There has been no evidence whatsoever proffered to suggest that Shah’s right to a fair trial has been compromised or prejudiced in any respect,” Stein added.
“An appropriate voir dire of potential jurors will be able to determine if the jury pool has been tainted in any way,” Stein explained.
Voir dire, of course, is the process of jury selection within the courtroom.
Potential jurors are screened, asked questions by the judge and by both legal teams, to determine if they have any biases that could impact the verdict.
According to the judge’s ruling, the statements in the Hulu documentary do not “interfere with [Shah’s] fair trial or otherwise prejudice the due administration of justice.”
In other words, this was a documentary shared on a popular streaming service.
It’s not the same thing as law enforcement leaking prejudicial material to the public in order to perpetuate the idea that someone is guilty before a jury is selected.
This means that Jen will stand trial as planned … and it sounds like one of her alleged accomplices may testify against her.
Jen is charged with committing wire fraud and money laundering, accused of targeting senior citizens with a coordinated and predatory campaign.
If convicted, she could face serious prison time. It’s no surprise that she’s pulling out all of the stops to try to end the trial before it begins.