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Media will be excluded from Oklahoma broadcast of bombing trial

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Media will be excluded from Oklahoma broadcast of bombing trial 02/10/97 COLORADO--The federal judge in Denver who is presiding over…

Media will be excluded from Oklahoma broadcast of bombing trial

02/10/97

COLORADO–The federal judge in Denver who is presiding over the Oklahoma City bombing case tentatively agreed in late January to broadcast the trial to a government auditorium in Oklahoma City in order to accommodate as many surviving victims and their families as possible, but he also ruled that the media will not be allowed to be present.

The closed-circuit broadcast is authorized under a recently enacted federal statute designed to make more accessible to crime victims trials that are moved more than 350 miles away from the original venue. The media argued during a January hearing that the telecast should be accessible to them because the auditorium will effectively be an extension of the courtroom, to which the media traditionally has access. U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch disagreed, holding that the federal statute only applies to crime victims. It is unclear whether the media will appeal.

The Associated Press reported that during the hearing, Matsch said he would maintain control over the transmission of the proceedings by way of a nearby cut-off switch. He further stated that he plans to conceal the identity of prospective jurors.

Matsch did approve an audio feed of the trial from the courtroom to a nearby pressroom within the Denver courthouse for the benefit of the media. The judge had initially rejected media requests for the live feed, but changed his mind after McVeigh’s attorneys dropped their objections.

Media groups continue to appeal the sealing of documents in the trial of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. According to an AP review of 1,000 documents filed in the case between February 20 and September 5, 1996, 75 percent were fully sealed or partially redacted.

McVeigh’s trial is currently scheduled to begin on March 31. Nichols’ trial will follow, but has not yet been scheduled. (U.S. v. McVeigh)