NEWS MEDIA UPDATE · NEW JERSEY · Secret Courts · Feb. 28, 2007
Judge allows murder victim tape to be played in open court
Feb. 28, 2007 · A New Jersey judge ruled Tuesday that a recording secretly made by a murder victim shortly before she was killed could be played aloud in open court but ordered that the recording not be taped or disseminated to anyone, including the media.
The prosecutors and the victim’s family had asked Judge James N. Citta not to play the recording in open court in Toms River. Rather, they requested that the jury listen to the tape on headphones so that the public could not hear.
Attorneys for The Associated Press and for two New Jersey newspapers – the Asbury Park Press and The (Newark) Star-Ledger – protested. They argued that evidence played to the jury should be heard by the public.
There is a presumption of open access to criminal proceedings under the Constitution.
The judge agreed to allow the news media and other members of the public to listen to the tapes along with the jury in the courtroom.
However, the judge also prohibited anyone, including the news media, from recording the tape or from disseminating it to anyone.
Kathleen Weinstein was killed after being carjacked. While in the car with her attacker, she secretly recorded the conversation they had.
The tape was found on her dead body three days after she was abducted.
(New Jersey v. LaSane) — CS