Judge lifts restraint on publishing jurors’ names
INDIANA–In mid-October, a Superior Court judge in Booneville vacated an order barring the media from publishing the names of prospective jurors in a criminal case, and expressed his hope that the media would exercise “restraint” in covering the trial. Thereafter, the judge began referring to the jurors by number when addressing them or referring to them in court.
Warrick Superior Court Judge Edward Campbell, who is presiding over a triple-murder trial, issued the order on the second day of jury selection in late September. The judge stated that the restriction was necessary for “security” reasons.
The Evansville Courier asked Campbell to reconsider his order. The judge denied the newspaper’s motion but indicated his willingness to hold a hearing on the matter. Instead, the Courier filed an emergency appeal to the Indiana Supreme Court, arguing that the order constituted an impermissible prior restraint on speech and that the court lacked jurisdiction to impose it.
Defense attorney Anthony Long told the Associated Press that the Courier’s petition could negatively affect his client’s ability to obtain a fair trial, and requested that counsel be appointed to represent Stephenson before the Supreme Court. Long said the court’s order imposed “minimal restrictions” on the media.
The Supreme Court on October 11 denied the Courier’s motion as untimely because it did not comply with court rules. The court took no position on the First Amendment issue raised by the newspaper.
Campbell then held a hearing on October 18 and vacated his order during an in-chambers conference. (Indiana v. Stephenson; Media Counsel: Patrick Shoulders, Evansville)