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State judge overturns conviction of broadcasters who identified juvenile

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State judge overturns conviction of broadcasters who identified juvenile 02/22/1994 ALABAMA -- A state judge overturned the conviction of two…

State judge overturns conviction of broadcasters who identified juvenile

02/22/1994

ALABAMA — A state judge overturned the conviction of two television newscasters in early February who identified a juvenile charged in a shooting.

Judge John Jolly reversed the lower court in early February, finding that “no criminal sanction can result from the subsequent publication of the juvenile defendant’s identity following identity publication of the juvenile in a public forum.” Reporter Bob Ozbirn and news director Sheri Hensley of WOWL-TV in Florence had been convicted in September by Franklin County District Court Judge Ben Richey of violating an Alabama law that prohibits the disclosure of the names of juveniles in the juvenile court. Ozbirn and Hensley were sentenced to two days in jail, two years on probation and fined $100.

They appealed to the Franklin County Circuit Court in mid-October arguing that because the juvenile’s name had been made public during a bond hearing for a co- defendant the subsequent broadcast was not illegal, the Associated Press reported.

(State v. Ozbirn; State v. Hensley; Media Counsel: Don Holt, Florence)