Burnette’s lawyers request headphones for all at trial

Burnette’s lawyers request headphones for all at trial
Published: Jul. 9, 2021 at 1:47 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 9, 2021 at 2:39 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Tallahassee developer JT Burnette is set to stand trial Monday on federal racketeering and extortion charges.

His attorneys are now asking permission to provide headphones for the jury, judge and legal teams, so they can better hear and understand the undercover audio recordings and videotapes that are expected to be introduced as evidence during the trial.

Burnette is one of three people arrested in an FBI corruption probe in Tallahassee. Former Tallahassee City Commissioner Scott Maddox and consultant Paige Carter-Smith have already entered guilty pleas in the case and are expected to testify against Burnette at trial.

A request filed on Wednesday says the defense team tested the courtroom sound system and found they were “unable to understand much of what was said on the audio clips to be played by both parties.”

The motion asks the court to allow a company called Trial Consulting Services (“TCS”) to provide headphones along with wireless internet, audio/visual equipment and laptops to try to ensure “a seamless presentation of audio and video during trial.”

Defense attorney Gregory Kehoe says Burnette will pay for the headphones and TCS services if approved by the judge.

Prosecutors are arguing against the “headphone-based audio system” saying when they tried it, they were “not able to discern an improvement in a listener’s ability to understand the audio recordings.”

They argued the “electronic equipment, wires, and technicians needed to run the defense’s proposed audio equipment will present a needless distraction to the jury, for little to no benefit.”

There is an attorney conference already scheduled for 8:15 a.m. Monday, so legal teams can address any last-minute issues before jury selection begins.

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