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Judge bans AP photographer from courtroom

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  1. Court Access

    NMU         OHIO         Secret Courts         Sep 22, 2000    

Judge bans AP photographer from courtroom

  • A judge banned all AP reporters from a trial because an AP photographer took photos of the jury while jurors examined the crime scene.

Judge Joseph Bruzzese Jr. banned reporters from The Associated Press from a murder trial in Ohio for allegedly violating an order prohibiting photographs of the jury. An AP photographer took photos of jurors while they viewed the crime scene along a highway, not while they were in the courtroom.

The photo was sent to AP member newspapers in the region. A friend of one juror saw the photo and reported it to the juror, who in turn reported it to the judge.

The judge responded on Sept. 19 by banning all AP reporters from the trial. He also threatened to ban any other reporters who give photos or information to The Associated Press.

Timothy Smith, a professor at Kent State University and media lawyer in Ohio, believes the judge’s conduct is illegal. Smith noted that a judge can control what happens in his courtroom, and he can fairly ban photos of the jury in the courtroom, but has no authority to control the conduct of a photographer outside the courtroom. Smith also believes that it is inappropriate for the judge to ban all AP reporters in retaliation for the act of one photographer.

The AP has not yet challenged the judge’s order, but said that it “intends to seek clarification of the directions of Judge Bruzzese.”


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