|News Media Update||CALIFORNIA||Secret Courts|
Public to hear — but not see — Peterson verdict
- The judge in the Scott Peterson murder trial will ban cameras during delivery of the verdict, rejecting arguments for greater public access.
Nov. 8, 2004 — Cameras will be barred from the courtroom when jurors deliver their verdict in the trial of Scott Peterson, accused of killing his wife and their unborn child, a California judge has ruled.
Instead, a live audio feed will be allowed, Judge Alfred A. Delucchi ruled Thursday, reversing an earlier decision. He also ruled that transcripts of the many private meetings with attorneys held in the judge’s chambers throughout the trial will remain sealed.
“The defendant’s right to a fair trial trumps the public’s need to know,” the Associated Press reported Delucchi said.
Rochelle Wilcox, an attorney representing television networks, disagreed.
“A camera in the courtroom would help ensure confidence in the legal process and give the public access to a moment that otherwise would not be captured,” Wilcox told The Modesto Bee .
“The networks would agree not to shoot family members, only Peterson and the attorneys.”
Prosecutor Dave Harris argued for banning cameras. “They’re going to focus in on someone’s grief, someone’s anguish, and that has nothing to do with teaching what the legal system is all about,” he told the judge.
In denying Wilcox’s request to unseal the attorney-judge transcripts, Delucchi told Wilcox: “I think we’re interested more in this verdict as a spectacle rather than for the public’s confidence in the judicial system. I’m not here to orchestrate this trial. I’m here to try this case.”
Delucchi said many of the in-chambers meetings have been about evidentiary issues that the jury should not hear about.
“As this case was being tried, newly discovered evidence was coming in . . . Some of this stuff turned out to have no evidentiary value. I don’t see any point in throwing it out there in the hopes that this would not get back to the jury. I’m trying to preserve the integrity of this trial, ” the Associated Press reported Delucchi said.
Peterson faces two counts of murder in the deaths of his wife, Laci, and the fetus she carried.
(California v. Peterson) — KC
© 2004 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press