Jury selection begins today in the trial of three former downtown Austin nightclub operators.
The Yassine brothers – Hussein, Hadi and Mohammed Yassine – were among ten people arrested in March on drug, weapon and money laundering charges. The Yassines, who operated several nightclubs including Spill, the pirate-themed bar Treasure Island, Kiss and Fly and more, have entered not guilty pleas.
The sensational nature of the charges – and the media attention they have attracted – are already a point of contention. The Austin American-Statesman, which notes that over 120 citizens were summoned to U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks’ courtroom to form the jury pool , writes:
Early questions focused on pre-trial publicity in the case, with Sparks asking prospective jurors if they’d been following coverage of the investigation, including a story that ran on the front page of today’s American-Statesman.