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Judge sets strict media rules in murder trial

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    NMU         GEORGIA         Secret Courts         Jun 13, 2002    

Judge sets strict media rules in murder trial

  • A Superior Court judge in Georgia threatened reporters with jail time if they talk to jurors in a high-profile murder case.

A Georgia Superior Court judge on June 5 set strict rules for media coverage in the murder trial of former DeKalb County Sheriff Sidney Dorsey.

Before jury selection, Superior Court Judge Cynthia Becker met with 20 reporters and photographers at the Dougherty County Courthouse in Albany, Ga. Citing her duty to ensure the defendant has a fair trial, she threatened jail time for any reporter who tried to talk to potential jurors or identified jurors during the trial. She also told reporters that anyone who caused a disruption would be ejected and barred from the trial.

Indicted on 16 counts, Dorsey is accused of organizing the murder of sheriff-elect Derwin Brown. Brown was slain in his driveway in December 2000, three days before he was scheduled to take office.

Becker has taken other action to control media coverage in Dorsey’s trial. In March, she imposed a gag order that prevents Dorsey, defense attorneys, prosecutors, family members, witnesses, and others from discussing the case with the media. Following a request from Dorsey’s attorneys, she also changed the trial’s venue, moving the case from DeKalb County near Atlanta to Dougherty County, citing intense media coverage in DeKalb County.

(State v. Dorsey) JLW

© 2002 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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