NEWS MEDIA UPDATE · CONNECTICUT · Secret Courts · April 10, 2007
Skakel hearing will receive photo and video coverage
April 10, 2007 · Responding to a written request from The Associated Press, a judge in Stamford, Conn., has decided to allow a video and photo pool at Michael Skakel’s retrial-petition hearing scheduled for next week.
Skakel, a nephew of Ethel Kennedy and of late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, was convicted in 2002 of murdering his 15-year-old neighbor Martha Moxley in Greenwich in 1975, when he was also 15. He is serving a prison term of 20 years to life.
Judge Edward R. Karazin Jr.’s decision was based on Superior Court rules that say “the broadcasting, televising, recording or photographing of court proceedings by news media will be allowed” as long as the judge is satisfied that “the permitted coverage will not interfere with the rights of the parties to a fair trial.”
Karazin granted the AP’s March 20 request on Thursday. He indicated he had received approval from Stamford Superior Court Administrative Judge John F. Kavanewsky Jr.
The decision will allow the AP to send one photographer and one video camera operator to the hearing, despite objections from Skakel’s attorney, Hubert Santos, and State’s Attorney Jonathan Benedict. The cameras will be fixed in a single location so that they cannot interfere with the court proceedings in any way.
Karazin, both attorneys and the media are scheduled to attend a mandatory pretrial conference on Thursday to discuss the details.
The hearing that AP plans to photograph and televise concerns Skakel’s petition for a new trial based on a man’s claim that implicated two friends in Moxley’s death. Both men have invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, according to media reports.
Karazin will preside over the nonjury hearing, which is scheduled for Tuesday and is expected to last several days.
Although media coverage is rarely allowed in Connecticut trial courts, the Connecticut Network was allowed to film Skakel’s appeals hearings and feed its footage to other networks during his trial in the fall of 2001; that was also the first time court photographers were allowed to take pictures during the ongoing case.
In May 2001, however, Kavanewsky denied Court TV’s request to televise the Skakel trial. At that point, all camera requests in Connecticut courts had been denied since the controversial 1995 O.J. Simpson murder trial.
(Connecticut v. Skakel) — MA