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Federal judge friendly to courtroom live-blog

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  1. Newsgathering
An Iowa-based federal judge earlier this month let a reporter live-blog a criminal trial, tapping away at her laptop in the back…

An Iowa-based federal judge earlier this month let a reporter live-blog a criminal trial, tapping away at her laptop in the back rows of the courtroom gallery, according to the ABA Journal.

U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett reasoned that, so long as Cedar Rapids Gazette reporter Trish Mehaffey was not a distraction, "the public’s right to know what goes on in federal court and the transparency that would be given the proceedings by live-blogging outweighed any potential prejudice to the defendant," according to the Journal.  The case involved a landlord accused of fraud.

The Journal points out this isn’t the first time a judge has allowed in court a laptop-toting reporter, citing a conspiracy trial in New Jersey, for one. Bloggers were also allowed in the trial of White House official I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby in 2007.

Bennett told the Journal he would consider letting it happen again in his courtroom, but he’s also likely to broach the topic more broadly with the Northern District of Iowa "so it’s just not an ad hoc decision by me."