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Judge gags parties, limits access in 'Scream' case

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Judge gags parties, limits access in 'Scream' case 07/12/99 CALIFORNIA--In mid June, Superior Court Judge John J. Cheroske in Los…

Judge gags parties, limits access in ‘Scream’ case

07/12/99

CALIFORNIA–In mid June, Superior Court Judge John J. Cheroske in Los Angeles ruled that transcripts of preliminary hearings in a high- profile murder would be sealed.

In January 1999, Maria Salvador Padilla and Samuel Ramirez attacked and killed Padilla’s mother. The boys allegedly confessed to the murder and said they were influenced by the movies “Scream” and “Scream II.”

On June 15, Courtroom Television Network filed a request to view exhibits in the case and to photocopy letters purportedly written by the defendants. On June 17, with the public and press in attendance, Cheroske summarily denied the request. In addition, Cheroske refused to allow the Court TV attorney to present any arguments on the network’s request to view and copy the preliminary hearing exhibits.

Furthermore, when Court TV asked for a transcript of the June 17 hearing, a court reporter stated that the transcript had been sealed by the judge pursuant to a gag order on the prosecution and defendants. Court TV filed an emergency appeal with the Court of Appeals in Los Angeles, which was pending in early July.

Cheroske also ruled in mid-June that attorneys for the two teenagers accused of capital murder will not be allowed to introduce the horror comedy “Scream” into evidence. The judge noted to the parties in the case that, “This case is not to be referred [to] as the ‘Scream’ case.”

In addition to sealing the preliminary hearing transcript and denying Court TV’s request to view exhibits in the case, Cheroske barred TV cameras from the trial and imposed a gag order on all participants, instructing them not to talk to reporters.

(Courtroom Television Network v. Superior Court; Media Counsel, Karen Frederiksen, Los Angeles)