Louisville Bias A Factor In Sypher Jury Selection

Wouldn’t you love to be in the courtroom this week as jury selection begins in the federal trial of Karen Sypher? Hard to believe her attorneys haven’t yet attempted a deal for her alleged attempt to extort $10 million from Rick Pitino.

Sypher relishes the gossip, the headlines, the TV cameras, and her high ranking in Google searches. Why else would she want to put herself and family through the ordeal of a highly publicized trial?

Charles R. Simpson, III, the judge, has released a copy of the questionnaire for potential jurors. He’s apparently concerned about individuals with a bias for University of Louisville sports getting on the jury. All candidates must answer four U of L-related questions:

  • Did you or any close family member attend and/or graduate from the University of Louisville?
  • Have you or any close family member contributed financially to the U of L within the last five years through gifts, donations, or other financial contribution?
  • Do you or close family members hold season tickets or frequently attend any U of L sporting events?
  • Have you attended a sporting or other event at the U of L within the last two years?

Funny thing is the judge is a University of Louisville graduate, having obtained his bachelor and law degrees on Belknap Campus. He was also editor of The Cardinal and was on the staff of The Louisville Lawyer. He was named Distinguished Alumnus of the law school in 1999.

With his strong ties to the university, one would conclude that the judge is well-versed in local issues, including the antagonism of many University of Kentucky basketball fans toward Pitino. UK has more than a few fans locally who would be eligible for the jury pool.

Yes, some UK fans are still that bitter. If U of L bias is a factor, then any UK leanings or financial ties should be grounds for immediate dismissal as well.

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Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

25 thoughts on “Louisville Bias A Factor In Sypher Jury Selection

  • July 11, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    Great…a strong anti UofL bias for prospective jurors. I can see them now in the jury box, all blue clad with UK2K shirts and Wildcat caps. Here’s a potential juror interview:

    JUDGE: How bout them Cats?

    JUROR: WOOO HOOO! Pitneer’s a dad gum traitor! We sendin’ that Tards coach to the big house!

    JUDGE: Ahh….it’s Ms. Sypher on trial here.

    JUROR: Set her free! That ol’ Slick Rick done made a tainted woman out of her.

    JUDGE: Please refrain from dipping snuff in here, mam.

    Maybe they’ll wise up and do the right thing. Select 12 Notre Dame graduates for the jury…since they only care about South Bend, Rudy, Luke Harangody and Lou Holtz and have no eartly idea who Sypher and Pitino are.

    • July 12, 2010 at 10:02 am

      That is great!

  • July 11, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    Are either one of you planning to attend the circus — I mean jury selection or trial?
    At one point, I thought about attending but decided I had better things to do in my life. Initially ,I felt sorry for this woman and now I sort of think the 2 (Pitino and Sypher) deserve each other. Sadly, the children and spouses have to stand by while the circus events begin and end. I really can’t believe the court process can be fair at this point. Old Rifle Rick should be hiding out on a golf course and I assume Ms.Sypher will be in a tight sweater presenting her strongest attributes to the court.

    • July 12, 2010 at 5:33 pm

      I’m not going, Lori….unless they implicate Angel McCoughtry or they try the “liar, liar…pants on fire” defense.

  • July 12, 2010 at 12:15 am

    Hopefully the prosecution will see to it that any anti-UofL bias that could bias potential jurors towards the defense is exposed during the voir dire.

  • July 12, 2010 at 1:42 am

    I think it will be very difficult.

  • July 12, 2010 at 8:05 am

    Hate to say it but with his U of L ties this judge should probably excuse himself. The conflict of interest is obvious to anyone who looks at his credentials. The sad thing is that this would extend the legal proceedings for at least a couple of years.

  • July 12, 2010 at 8:43 am

    “Does Aunt Ginny have a barn? Maybe we could hold the trial there. I can sew the costumes. Maybe Uncle Goober could be the judge.”

    -Tom Cruise, as Lt. Caffee in the movie “A FEW GOOD MEN”

  • July 12, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    First, the attorneys submit questions for void dire as well. The judge can ask what he wants, but this was coming out regardless. And there is no telling who was the source for these questions. I also doubt fandom is sufficient to strike a juror for cause.

    Second, being an alum of UofL is not sufficient for judicial recusal. There is no conflict of interest here. A federal judge is far above this. Just like a doctor wouldn’t misdiagnose a patient for being a UK, or an engineer wouldn’t under design a building housing Calipari’s office, Judge Simpson will be a professional.

    • July 12, 2010 at 10:11 pm

      Federal judges aren’t robots either… or maybe it depends on their political affiliation. As for the fan part, how well do you know fans anyway? And I guess someone in construction on the U of L arena wouldn’t put the UK logo in concrete on said arena? These allegiances make no difference in the everyday world. (sarcasm)

      • July 13, 2010 at 6:53 am

        You’ve got to be kidding. You are comparing a carpenter finishing concrete to a federal judge in a criminal prosecution. I 100% guarantee that a fair trial is paramount to Judge Simpson, not Rick Pitino’s “good name”. Some things are just above the pettiness of being a fan. They are too important. A persons freedom is one such example.

        • July 13, 2010 at 8:30 am

          In an ideal world, your faith would be right on target, David. I wasn’t the one comparing a carpenter to a judge. You were.

          • July 13, 2010 at 10:20 am

            This entire blog entry, along with these comments, are a complete mischaracterization of the justice system at the federal level (i would understand if this were in Logan County Circuit Court).

            Also, I never compared the professionalism of a carpenter with that of a federal judge. Read again. You were the one who placed the human element of fan action in finishing concrete in the same light as another human playing a significant role in deciding ones criminal culpability and freedom. The level of professionalism and expectation of professionalism in those two examples are not even close, not to mention the consequences of those actions.

            It’s not about faith. It’s about reality. I can’t believe I even have to defend this point.

            • July 13, 2010 at 11:35 am

              Glad to provide you a forum, David. Wonder why there are questions about Louisville donations and fan attendance if they are not important issues in this trial? I just found it funny that the judge has so many U of L ties.

              You’re taking it to an entirely different level. If it weren’t Karen Sypher, who has done the same thing a couple of times before, we might have more sympathy for the defendant.

              Have you noticed who’s in charge of the federal justice system by the way?

  • July 12, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    But you know people will talk and wonder – sadly, even if the judge is a professional and I am sure he is-I was hoping it could have been moved…we will see – Hey,If you wish to earn a quick buck – One could sell t-shirts and rubber bracelets outside the courthouse. May go over big with local folks — maybe even the media. well well

  • July 13, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Please please please let this go smoothly and get it over soon. No mistrial or hung jury or anything to drag this out into another season/recruiting period. This tawdry drama has got to end!

    • July 13, 2010 at 1:37 pm


  • July 13, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    Dear BCB – you must admit this blog makes the tawdry trail entertaining.
    I hope it ends this summer too.

  • July 14, 2010 at 5:25 am

    This impending trial reminds me of the joke the late Dean Martin used to tell years ago:

    “So I was driving home and I got pulled over by the police. The office asked where I had been and I told him I had attended a New Year’s Eve party and headed home.

    He looked at me and told that New Year’s Eve was a month ago.

    I looked back at him and answered…

    ‘Well, It’s high time I got home then, isn’t it?'”

    The point of this story is that they’re rehashing something that happened six years ago. It’s imperative that this thing gets solved with all due speed, so that all parties can “get on with the now..” whether it be coaching duties and/or serving some jail time.

    Unfortunately, given the way our court systems run…we’l probably be talking about this ordeal’s ongoing procedings when the Cards take the court in the KFC YUM! Center in November.

    • July 14, 2010 at 9:05 am

      Seven years ago now.

  • July 14, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    After reading the mind set of some jurors – which Earhart is none too happy —- I have hunch this mess may not resolve anytime soon. -The old commonwealth will have a dilly of a time with this. yikes!

  • July 14, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    Just guessing–but I’ve noticed that it is the defendant who’s been calling the press conferences. This leads me to believe that they are either wearing down the g-men and hoping for a plea deal, or whats-her-name is stoking interest in a forthcoming book.
    Tentative title ‘Ho Ho Ho–A Cautionary Tail’ perhaps?

    Sorry-couldn’t resist. Come on, football…

  • July 15, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    The case docket – reads that a change of venue is in the works – can’t say I am surprised.

  • July 15, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    The docket only shows that a motion was filed by Sypher’s attorney to change venues. I doubt that it will be granted, seeing how this story pervades the Commonwealth. In fact, I would argue that the best opportunity for a fair trial is in Louisville. With being the largest city in Kentucky, Louisville offers the best opportunity to find jurors who care neither about UK, UofL, college basketball, nor Rick Pitino.

  • July 15, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    your right just a motion was filed.

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