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Judge confiscates photographers' film for shooting pictures of jurors

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  1. Prior Restraint

    NMU         MICHIGAN         Prior Restraints         May 16, 2000    

Judge confiscates photographers’ film for shooting pictures of jurors

  • Two photographers were detained and told they would be released only if they turned over unexposed pictures of jurors leaving the courtroom.

A Port Huron trial judge on May 12 seized the film from the cameras of two photographers who violated an oral court order prohibiting the filming of jurors after the sexual misconduct trial of Port Huron’s former mayor, according to the Associated Press.

The photographs were taken outside of the courtroom after the jurors had rendered their verdict in the case.

Circuit Judge Peter Deegan ordered Times Herald photographers Tony Pitts and Mark Rummel detained and handcuffed for approximately 20 minutes in Deegan’s jury room before ordering them to surrender their rolls of film in exchange for their release, the AP report stated.

Deegan had banned cameras from the courtroom during the trial. He announced the court order prohibiting the posttrial photographing of any juror only minutes before Pitts and Rummel took the photographs, according to the AP.

The photographers claim that they were unaware that they had violated any order by shooting the jurors who had rendered their verdict. The executive editor of the Times Herald told the AP that the newspaper planned on filing an appeal of Deegan’s confiscation of the film with the state Court of Appeals in Lansing. “We continue to believe our photographers had every right to photograph the proceedings outside the courthouse on Friday,” Denise Richter said. “To take photographs of public events on public property is a right we must guard carefully.”

Pitts and Rummel took the pictures following the conviction of Gerald Ackerman on 10 counts of sexual misconduct with preteen girls.

(Media Counsel: Charles Kelly, Port Huron)


© 2000 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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