WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — There's no jury box for the jurors, no tables for the lawyers, a shortage of space for the media and public and not enough bathrooms.
A judge ruled Wednesday that a small-town courtroom in New York cannot handle the drugged-driving case against Kerry Kennedy and ordered her trial moved to the Westchester County courthouse in White Plains.
Administrative Judge Alan Scheinkman said that although the charge against Kennedy is a misdemeanor that should be tried locally, that preference is overcome "where the physical limitations of a court facility are such that the demands of a particular case will overwhelm them."
Kennedy, who is daughter of the late Sen. Robert Kennedy and President John Kennedy's niece, swerved her Lexus into a tractor-trailer in 2012. Tests found a small amount of a sleeping drug in her blood. She says she accidentally took a sleeping pill.
A trial had been scheduled to start next week, but Kennedy's lawyers complained that the North Castle town courthouse in Armonk, actually a multipurpose meeting room, wouldn't work for a high-profile trial. They expressed concerns about juror facilities, working conditions and security.
Scheinkman said he inspected the room and felt town police could handle security, but he agreed that the lack of a jury room or jury box heightened the danger of a mistrial.
"It would be very difficult to maintain separation of jurors from others present, such as counsel, witnesses, media members, defendant's relatives and friends and the general public," he wrote.
He noted that there is just one bathroom for each gender and said court staff would have to make sure bathrooms were vacant when jurors wanted to use them.
Defense attorney Gerald Lefcourt said, "We're very happy that the case is being moved to a court where the parties can act like it's a courtroom instead of a meeting room."
The district attorney's office did not take a position on the request to move the case.
No new date has been set for the trial. The case is to be assigned to a judge from the state Supreme Court, New York's trial-level court.