Since the hot car death of his son, the life of Justin Ross Harris has turned upside down. He's lost his job, his wife has left the State and secured her own lawyer, and he's facing murder charges. In addition, the court of public opinion has torn Justin Ross Harris to shreds based on the fact that he was sexting as many as, and maybe even more than, 6 women while 22-month-old Cooper Harris was dying in his vehicle. The Marietta Daily Journal out of Marietta, Georgia, reported today that the latest development in this case is that a Cobb County Superior Court judge has been assigned to what is expected to become the Justin Ross Harris trial. The Marietta Daily Journal also outlined what is next for Justin Ross Harris in this Cobb County, Georgia case that the entire world is watching.
The Marietta Daily Journal is reporting on July 16 that a Cobb County Superior Court judge has been assigned to preside over the Justin Ross Harris trial for the hot car death of his 22-month-old son Cooper that occurred on June 18 in Cobb County, Georgia. The father of the child Justin Ross Harris, is facing felony murder charges in addition to child cruelty charges.
The first step in this journey for the man those close to him know as Ross Harris was the probable cause hearing on July 3. Until that probable cause hearing, support behind the Harris family was strong. What could be more tragic than losing your child at the result of your own neglect and stupidity?
But since that hearing, support for Justin Ross Harris or even anyone in the Harris family has slowly trickled its way down the drain with the shreds of their life.
Every parent has had a brain fart on occasion, the tragedy of hot car death is becoming one that is sadly sweeping the nation because of that very fact. But not every parent has the same story as Ross Harris. After his July 3 probable cause hearing support for him began to wane when it came to light that while little Cooper literally baked to death in his own car, his own father, the man he expected to keep him safe for forever, was sexting as many as 6 other women.
One of those women was allegedly a minor, and is reportedly 17-years-old at the time of press. But she was only 16 when she first met a man named RJ online, and it was not long after this meeting that this 16-year-old began a sextual relationship with Ross Harris. That was testimony provided as evidence at the probable cause hearing of Justin Ross Harris.
Detective Phil Stoddard of the Cobb County law enforcement agencies and the lead detective on this case also testified at the probable cause hearing that nude pictures were exchanged between Ross Harris and this now 17-year-old girl on June 18. Since then, according to HLN, the county that this minor comes from has also expressed an interest in possibly laying charges in this case.
Those charges would be related to "sexual relationship with a minor" type charges but could not be confirmed at this time. On July 3 Judge Frank Cox denied bail and ordered the accused be stay in custody until further notice. At this point Judge Cox referred the case over to the Superior Courts.
According to the Marietta Daily Journal today, Cobb County Superior Court Judge Mary Staley has been assigned to preside over the Justin Ross Harris trial. Judge Staley was selected by lottery according to an administrator in the Cobb County courts, and "wasn't chosen for any specific reason."
The Marietta Daily Journal reports that there will still be some steps for Justin Ross Harris before he will appear before Judge Mary Staley. A grand jury must hear this case before it goes to Judge Staley, and that can only occur after the police have completed their investigation.
Sgt. Dana Pierce a spokesperson for Cobb County Sheriff's Department said that law enforcement is "still investigating" and not reporting any new updates at this time in the case of the hot car death of Cooper Harris. There is no news on the case, and they "do not know when they will be done with the investigation."
Once this investigation is complete, the District Attorney will look at the evidence and determine whether or not it will even see a Grand Jury.
Kim Isaza, a spokesperson for the District Attorney told the Marietta Daily Journal that,
"Our prosecutors and investigators will review the facts and the evidence that is in hand and determine what — if any — crimes the facts and evidence support. We have a grand jury in Cobb County that sits continually — about one or two days a week — because we’re such a big county. So, that part of the process will move pretty quickly.”
A Grand Jury will then determine if there is sufficient evidence to proceed with charges against Justin Ross Harris. If there is, the Superior Court will be issued a true bill of indictment and will appear in the next open spot on Judge Staley's docket.
Some speculation from a Marietta attorney un-related to this case suggests a move of venue may not be off the table due to the media attention this case has garnered. Attorney Joel Pugh said an unbiased jury might be difficult in this county at this point in time. Even so, a change of venue in itself poses a problem. Attorney Pugh said,
"The issue is where (to move the trial) because it has to be in Georgia, and this case has received national publicity."
A move out of Cobb County will not impact the selection of Judge Mary Staley, who will stay on the case during a change of venue.
Attorney Joel Pugh also said that avid trial watchers might be disappointed if they are hoping things will go quickly. Given that the police investigation is underway, Pugh said,
"I would be surprised if anything really happens on this case this year – other than what's happened already."
11 Alive reported out of Cobb County, Georgia, earlier this week saying regardless of how fast or slow this case goes, the nation is definitely responding and responding swiftly in a variety of ways. One method as reported by 11 Alive is through action that is allegedly undergoing with the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association at the time of press.
11 Alive is reporting that the Georgia Trial Lawyers are working on a partnership with child safety advocates to put some pressure on the Obama Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation to create change that will stop the hot car death epidemic. One change this group is pursuing through a petition on Change.org are changes in car manufacturing where devices are installed that essentially function as "child left unattended" detectors.
If this group is successful, the notoriety of this case could potentially impact the public in a positive way, and maybe even prevent more tragedies.
A lot of people have been speculating about this case, and a lot of people have been speculating about the people that have been speculating about this case. When a case has that many people talking for so many different reasons, then you know it has a lot of power to create positive change.
Will that happen in this case?
Maybe not. While all of this flurry is happening for Justin Ross Harris in Cobb County, Georgia, the mother of the hot car death victim has taken a road trip to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She is one person in America who doesn't want anybody talking or speculating about this case, and doesn't want this case to have the notoriety that it has obtained.
As the defense team begins its preparations for next steps of Justin Ross Harris, the other parent of 22-month-old Cooper Harris has made preparations herself. Last week it was reported that amid the wide body of speculation surrounding Leanna Harris, wife of the accused in the Cobb County hot car death had retained a death penalty certified lawyer. Yesterday she put that lawyer to work and Lawrence Zimmerman has released a statement for Leanna Harris and about this issue of notoriety according to NBC News.
NBC News reported on July 15 that a letter from Lawrence Zimmerman was issued to the press as a blanket request to "stop the presses" on the whirl of speculation currently surrounding Leanna Harris. In a public letter from Leanna Harris through her lawyer, the court of public opinion heard from Leanna for the first time since the funeral of her child.
"Leanna Harris is living every parent's nightmare – the child she bore and loved every moment of his life has died. For most parents, it is difficult, if not impossible, to comprehend such a thing. But for Leanna, that nightmare is all too real.
Dealing with her grief has become more difficult as the days go on, however, in large part because of the constant speculation and innuendo in the media. Newspapers, television, and online media have fostered a poisonous atmosphere in which Leanna's every word, action and emotion – or failure to cry in front of a crowd – is scrutinized for some supposed hidden meaning."
Essentially, Leanna Harris has asked her attorney to write a letter asking the world to suppress their own First Amendment rights so that she can go on with her life. What this attorney has perhaps forgotten that it was not the court of public opinion that presented the strange behavior of Leanna Harris as evidence in this case.
It was Detective Phil Stoddard, the lead law enforcement investigator on the hot car death of 22-month old Cooper Harris. Detective Stoddard has provided evidence that Leanna Harris took responsibility for "child free living" searches, and also testified that her initial reactions were not consistent with normal behavior.
It is not the court of public opinion that has developed those speculations, it is those speculations and that evidence that is what has created the national attention on this case. Some legal experts have even said that the open letter to the public from Leanna Harris through her lawyer also sounds like what one would write when they are writing a motion to change a venue.
Leanna Harris has retained a criminal defense attorney, and has not been charged with a crime. She is accused of exhibiting some very strange behavior. Yes, the court of public opinion has accused Leanna Harris of some very strange behavior. But the court of public opinion is only talking about it.
It was actually the lead law enforcement agent on the hot car death case of Cooper Harris that submitted his speculations on her behavior as evidence in this case.
America is very good at showing the love to a grieving mother. It is what they do, when they see one.
Is there a reason that America isn't rushing to Leanna's side right now? What do you think?
What do you think about her asking you to suppress your freedom of expression in this case?