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DePape faces kidnapping charges in Pelosi hammer attack

By Jake Beardslee · November 6, 2023

In brief…

  • DePape faces trial this week for attacking Paul Pelosi in the family's San Francisco home
  • His attorneys tried unsuccessfully to move the trial out of the city, attempted arguing Pelosi's popularity there will bias jurors against DePape
  • Judge ruled San Francisco venue is constitutional barring biased jurors
  • Case prompted coverage of DePape's extreme political views
David DePape's trial for attacking Paul Pelosi in San Francisco will begin this week in a courthouse near the crime scene.  Rawpixel/CC

The trial of David DePape, who is accused of violently attacking Paul Pelosi, husband of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in their San Francisco home last October, is set to begin this week in a courthouse just two miles from the crime scene. DePape faces charges including attempted kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon. His attorneys tried unsuccessfully to move the trial nearly 300 miles north to Eureka, arguing DePape can’t get a fair trial in a city where Nancy Pelosi is beloved.

The attack happened in one of America’s most liberal cities, where Nancy Pelosi has enjoyed overwhelming electoral support. “Nancy Pelosi is a loved and revered public servant in San Francisco,” said local attorney Valery Nechay to Politico. “Political ideology will definitely be examined.” The court’s draft juror questionnaire asks if potential jurors are represented by Pelosi, have supported her campaigns, or expressed opinions about her online.

DePape’s public defender Jodi Linker has claimed pervasive local media coverage of the attack and Nancy Pelosi’s popularity in San Francisco will bias jurors against her client. She also cited coverage of DePape’s extreme political views, as reflected in racist, sexist, and antisemitic online posts. DePape espoused various election conspiracy theories.

Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley denied the venue change request, saying Eureka residents likely also heard about this “notorious national case.” She said Eureka’s smaller jury pool could make an unbiased panel harder to find. Legal experts say venue changes are rare, and the Constitution requires federal trials be held where crimes occur.