The California courthouse where David DePape will stand trial this week is unfriendly territory. The conspiracy-obsessed man charged in the hammer attack on the husband of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in their hilltop mansion could face decades in prison. The trial venue is two miles from the couple’s home, in a courthouse named for the longtime congressperson’s mentor in a city where she won her last election with overwhelming support, Politico reports. “Nancy Pelosi is a loved and revered public servant in San Francisco,” noted Valery Nechay, a criminal defense attorney who is following the case. “Political ideology will definitely be examined. The defense is going to be interested in more conservative-leaning jurors,” she said. The question of whether DePape can get a fair trial has been a major component of pretrial litigation and will likely be an element in any appeal if he’s convicted. It represents the latest challenge for a legal system that is facing iscrutiny amid highly politicized cases, including the four criminal prosecutions of ex-President Trump.
DePape faces charges that include attempted kidnapping and assault in the October 2022 attack on Paul Pelosi, which was caught in brutal granularity in police body camera footage. The attack is a painful reminder of San Francisco’s dark history of political violence, which goes back four decades to the assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. DePape’s attorneys tried to move the case to Eureka, a small city nearly 300 miles north of San Francisco. U.S.District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley rejected that request. Jury selection interviews could provide the defense with another opening — particularly after potential jurors are asked about their feelings toward Pelosi and whether they have followed news coverage of the case. The court’s questionnaire for jurors asks whether they are represented by Pelosi in Congress and if they have supported her campaigns or expressed opinions about her on social media.