Wakefield attorney Bill Barabino has a task that few would envy. Barabino is responsible for defending a client, John Burbine, in what the district attorney has called one of the worst child sex abuse cases in recent memory - while also working amid very intense media attention to the case.
In a phone conversation on Tuesday, Wakefield Patch asked Barabino if amid the media crush, the coverage of his client has basically been fair. Burbine is accused of sexually abusing children from the Melrose area.
"I think people have reportedly accurately the facts that have been represented in court," said Barabino, adding that nothing specific came to mind about a story that was unfair or inaccurate in the region's media. The Wakefield-based attorney noted that if concern does come up during a trial about a jury having been excessively influenced by media coverage of a case, a motion can be filed to have it sent to another county. Nonetheless, Barabino said that this option "is not something that is a concern now."
Barabino also pointed out that his client is not expected to come to trial for at least 11 months - and possibly longer depending on variables like upcoming court proceedings. It remains to be seen how intense the level of media interest will remain closer to the actual trial. Even with the high degree of media coverage in cases such as this, Barabino added that the defense and prosecution are able to further screen jurors for excessive biases through the voir dire process in court.
"Even though (the case) is maybe in the minds of most people, it doesn't necessarily mean it's in the mind of all people," said Barabino, adding he has "no doubt" the process will work in this case as well.
Unable To Comment Much On Burbine Himself
Barabino has consistently declined to discuss his client very much when asked by reporters outside of court proceedings. Back in December, the defense attorney told reporters gathered outside Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn that his client would not be able to post a $1 million bail and had at the time seemed "very distressed" by the charges against him. Burbine has been held in Billerica since being moved from Cambridge shortly after his arrest.
On Tuesday, Barabino declined to comment on whether Burbine has been following the media coverage of the case himself, and whether the defendant had any sort of reaction now that a trial date is on the horizon.
Some Communication Between Defense Attorneys
Finally, Barabino confirmed that he has maintained "a necessary communication balance" with fellow Wakefield defense attorney John Ruehrwein, who is representing Burbine's wife, Marian, on her charges stemming from the case. Still, he noted that while the two defense attorneys have access to much of the same documentation in the case, procedurally, these are two separate cases.
Mrs. Burbine, who remains under house arrest at her Wakefield home, has been charged with six counts of reckless endangerment of a child and is due in court next on Feb. 13 for a routine motion for dismissal.