Court gives video camera back three years after arrest
ARIZONA–After three years of legal wrangling, including three arraignments and nine hearings, a Tucson journalist got his video camera back from the court that took it from him.
Thomas LaVoie Sr. was given back his video camera in mid-July after a justice of the peace in Tucson dismissed charges against him dating back to August 1992. LaVoie was charged with interfering with judicial proceedings by Magistrate Wendy Hernandez in Tucson City Court after an encounter in which Hernandez demanded that LaVoie remove his camera from the courtroom.
LaVoie, a correspondent for an independent news production company, People’s News Network, went to City Court to videotape his son’s arraignment on a traffic violation. Before court came into session, LaVoie was approached by a Hernandez assistant who told him that, by order of the judge, he could not record the proceedings.
LaVoie agreed not to videotape and removed the tape from the recorder, but continued to ask the assistant why such a rule existed. When Hernandez entered the courtroom, she told Lavoie that cameras were not allowed because those present had not consented to being photographed.
According to LaVoie, although he had agreed not to tape the proceedings, the judge ordered his arrest when he questioned her policy. LaVoie said he was trying to clarify the judge’s order and was not given a chance to respond before he was handcuffed.
In the three years that followed, LaVoie attended three arraignments and nine hearings concerning the issue. In July, the Tucson justice of the peace dismissed the case against LaVoie due to violations of his right to a speedy trial. The policy banning cameras from Hernandez’ court was never ruled upon. (Arizona v. LaVoie)