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Boeheim; SU defamation case will move to Onondaga County

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Albany/HV: Boeheim; SU defamation case will move to Onondaga County
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The defamation case against Syracuse University and head basketball coach Jim Boeheim will be heard in Onondaga County. That decision was made Wednesday by a county Supreme Court judge. Our Kat De Maria explains the ruling.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- There is no doubt people in Central New York like Syracuse University and head basketball coach Jim Boeheim.

The question before Onondaga County Supreme Court Justice Brian DeJoseph this week was whether 12 people in the county can be found who are without bias or able to set their feelings aside to decide whether Boeheim and SU defamed Bobby Davis and Michael Lang. That in the course of the former ball boys accusing former associate basketball coach Bernie Fine of sexual abuse. Wednesday, DeJoseph ruled they can.

"There may be people who have biases or favorable opinions one way or the other. But he says that's something that can be taken care of in jury selection," said legal expert Paul DerOhannesian.

In the decision, DeJoseph explained that Boeheim and SU may support the community economically, but Davis and Lang's lawyers would have had to prove a direct relationship between that money and the jurors. As for SU and the basketball team's popularity and prominence, DeJoseph ruled that alone isn't enough to prove a strong possibility of bias.

DerOhannesian points out that change of venue was denied in the cases of the Enron executives, who were tried near the company's headquarters, among employees and shareholders. More recently, the case against Jerry Sandusky was allowed to proceed right in the same county as Penn State University. For people who may feel hearing the case in Onondaga County may give Boeheim and SU an advantage, DerOhannesian said that's not so.

"Individuals who have a close connection to the case may feel strongly about the case. But there are many people who don't have that affiliation and that connection. And also as time goes on, you will find more and more people will distance themselves from the facts of a case," DerOhannesian said.

Now that a venue has been determined, the facts will become the focus: whether what Jim Boeheim said early in the days of the Bernie Fine investigate rise to the level of a crime.

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