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Trial judge closes courtroom door to cameras in Skakel case

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    NMU         CONNECTICUT         Broadcasting         Jun 1, 2001    

Trial judge closes courtroom door to cameras in Skakel case

  • State law affords judicial discretion to permit cameras, but no request has been honored in more than five years.

A Connecticut trial judge court in mid-May denied a request to allow television cameras in the courtroom during the murder trial of Michael Skakel.

Superior Court Judge John F. Kavanewsky’s order rejected a request by Court TV to televise the trial of Skakel, a nephew of the late Sen. Robert F. and Ethel Kennedy. While the order addressed only Court TV, it suggested that the judge would turn down similar requests by other broadcasters.

For more than 15 years, Connecticut law has allowed still and video cameras in the courtroom at the discretion of the trial judge. But all media requests to place cameras in state courtrooms have been denied since the controversy surrounding cameras in the O.J. Simpson murder trial in California in 1995.

Kavanewsky has not ruled on a prosecution motion seeking a gag order on Skakel’s attorney, Mickey Sherman. Sherman has blasted the state’s case against Skakel and publicly questioned the credibility of prosecution witnesses. He told the Hartford Courant the potential gag order was only a “minor constraint.”

“It just means I can’t call them liars and morons anymore,” Sherman told the Courant.

Skakel, now 40, is accused of murdering his 15-year-old Greenwich neighbor, Martha Moxley, in 1975.

(Connecticut v. Skakel; Media Counsel: Douglas P. Jacobs, Court TV, New York) CM

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© 2001 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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