After being unable to secure a Cobb County jury this spring, about 250 Glynn County residents are expected to receive jury summonses as court officials prepare for next month’s murder trial of Justin Ross Harris.

Harris is the father accused of murdering his 22-month-old son, Cooper, by intentionally leaving him in his car to die on June 18, 2014. He was originally set to be tried in Cobb, but his attorneys in May filed for a change of venue after three weeks of jury selection.

Superior Court Judge Mary Staley Clark granted the request for a change of venue for the trial, citing in her decision constant media coverage that had led to potential jurors’ “pervasive” knowledge of the case.

In June, officials announced the trial’s move to Brunswick in Glynn County, about 68 miles south of Savannah, with the start of jury selection scheduled for Sept. 12. The announcement of the new venue came just two days ahead of the two-year anniversary of Cooper’s death.

Court Administrator Tom Charron said he had spoken to Glynn County’s court clerk last week and was notified that about 250 summonses were in the process of being sent out, less than the nearly 350 sent by Cobb earlier this year.

About 250 Cobb residents responded to those summonses, Charron said.

Cobb residents’ potential knowledge of the case had been cited as a reason for the large number of summonses sent when the trial was to be held here. The public’s knowledge of the case may not be as large a factor in and around Brunswick — about a five-hour drive from Marietta — but other factors are playing into the jury selection process.

“One thing the clerk mentioned to me was that they have a number of people who are over 70 years of age because it is an area where you have a large retirement population,” Charron said. “They wanted to make sure there were enough summons going out that we would have a big enough pool to select a jury.”

Another factor, Charron added, is the list of addresses provided by the state to court officials: Occasionally, the list contains incorrect addresses.

“When you do get an area like that where you do have seasonal people living there — I’m sure there are a lot of part-time citizens down there who may really live somewhere else, so I’m sure that all factored in,” he said. “And we’re also just trying to be cautious in the event we run into a number of the prospective jurors who may have read or heard something about the case, that we have an adequate number.”

Jury selection is expected to last about two weeks, with Charron saying that Judge Staley Clark’s plan is to question several jurors at a time, rather than question them individually like she and prosecution and defense did in Cobb.

Traditionally, panels of 12 jurors are questioned, Charron added.

“By being able to ask questions of panels of jurors and only individually questioning if a juror seems to have a lot of knowledge about the case, we really think that’s going to move jury selection along a lot quicker,” he said.

Though the Harris case has gotten national and even international attention in previous months, it remains to be seen how many details of the case Glynn County residents will know about.

A classified ad that has appeared in The Brunswick News, a daily newspaper serving Glynn and neighboring counties, encouraged anyone interested in the Harris case to listen to a podcast that has been dissecting the case and following its progress. The ad could be seen on the newspaper’s website Thursday afternoon.

Kim Isaza, spokeswoman for the Cobb district attorney’s office, confirmed published reports that said DA’s office subpoenaed the newspaper’s advertising director last month, asking them to disclose the name of the person who submitted the ad to determine if they were a potential juror or someone involved in the case. It was later determined that neither were the case.

Following the scheduled two weeks of jury selection, those connected to the trial are expected to have the last week of September off, as it is fall break for those in the Cobb County and Marietta City school systems. The trial itself could begin on Oct. 3, though it may start sooner or later depending on the pace of the jury selection process. The trial is anticipated to take five to six weeks total.

But before next month’s start in Glynn County, attorneys and prosecutors will return to Staley Clark’s Cobb County courtroom on Aug. 19 to argue a new round of motions in the case. Among the issues that have yet to be addressed is an effort from prosecutors to have jurors view the locations Harris and his son traveled to the day Cooper died.

Attorneys for Harris declined to comment for this story.

Follow Jon Gargis on Twitter at


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