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Judge bars "gavel to gavel coverage" in murder trial

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Judge bars "gavel to gavel coverage" in murder trial 03/09/98 NEVADA--In mid-February, a district court judge in Las Vegas decided…

Judge bars “gavel to gavel coverage” in murder trial

03/09/98

NEVADA–In mid-February, a district court judge in Las Vegas decided that the trial of Jeremy Strohmeyer, accused of strangling and sexually assaulting seven-year-old Sherrice Iverson last May, will remain open to the electronic and print media but “gavel-to-gavel coverage” will not be allowed.

Judge Don Chairez contended that because Court TV is not accessible in Clark County, the site of the trial, gavel-to-gavel coverage by the cable network would not educate the community, which was already served by the local news media.

Strohmeyer objected to televising the trial for numerous reasons: the district attorney is running for re-election, the people involved in the trial “do not have actor’s training,” and broadcasting trials can discourage witnesses from being truthful.

Chairez disagreed with Strohmeyer and allowed print and electronic coverage, contending that “the best way to safeguard a defendant’s rights is to allow the community to be present at the trial.”

In denying the Court TV request, Chairez asserted that having “a camera in the courtroom with a live feed for the entire trial is far more intrusive than having a reporter quietly taking notes or having cameras take a two-minute snippet of film.” He also noted that one of Strohmeyer’s attorneys, Leslie Abramson, is employed by Court TV. Such a relationship may make her feel “self-conscious” because the network may focus on her more than other trial participants and consequently, interfere with Strohmeyer’s Sixth Amendment rights to a fair trial, the court ruled. (Nevada v. Strohmeyer; Media Counsel: Kevin Doty, Las Vegas)