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Judge bars cameras in football player's reckless driving case

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Judge bars cameras in football player's reckless driving case11/20/95 COLORADO--Boulder County Judge Diane MacDonald ruled in early November that she…

Judge bars cameras in football player’s reckless driving case

11/20/95

COLORADO–Boulder County Judge Diane MacDonald ruled in early November that she would not allow Denver television stations to broadcast the trial of Denver Broncos starting wide receiver Michael Pritchard, charged with the vehicular assault of two University of Colorado students.

On October 29, the athlete’s car jumped a curb and struck the two students as they were walking on a sidewalk near the campus, injuring one seriously.

Pritchard’s attorney Joe French opposed camera coverage of his client’s trial and cited reaction to the O.J. Simpson trial as reason to bar cameras from the courtroom.

French had argued that the Simpson trial has left many judges reluctant to allow televised coverage of courtroom proceedings. He argued before the court that allowing cameras in the courtroom would “transform the trial into tabloid entertainment,” and “encourage witnesses to play to the camera,” thus tainting testimony, the Associated Press reported.

French drew parallels between his client’s case and Simpson’s, by saying that cameras would only serve the purpose of “poisoning” the objectivity of potential jurors.

Police tests indicated that Pritchard was not legally intoxicated, although he admitted to police that he had been drinking on the night of the accident.

A spokeswoman for Judge MacDonald said that she did not disclose whether she based her decision to ban cameras from the court on the outcome of the Simpson trial. (Colorado v. Pritchard)