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TV cameras banned in anticipation of Patty Hearst’s testimony

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    NMU         CALIFORNIA         Broadcasting         Jan 19, 2000    

TV cameras banned in anticipation of Patty Hearst’s testimony

  • Cameras will not be allowed in the courtroom for the trial of a former Symbionese Liberation Army fugitive, and a gag order has been issued to silence trial participants

A California trial judge has banned television cameras from inside the courtroom and instituted a gag order on participants in the February trial of former Symbionese Liberation Army fugitive Sara Jane Olson.

The Associated Press quoted Los Angeles trial Judge James Ideman as saying that he made his decision about cameras in the courtroom because of concerns about the effect that televising the trial would have on Patty Hearst Shaw, who is expected to testify on behalf of the prosecution. “[T]o make [Shaw] go through all that again would be like raping her again after 25 years,” Ideman said. “I can’t do that to her.”

In blocking cameras, Ideman rejected a motion filed by Court TV and the Cable News Network. Olson’s defense team had supported the motion, while prosecutors had argued that allowing cameras in the courtroom would endanger public safety by showing how terrorist groups make bombs, according to AP.

Olson stands accused of putting bombs underneath two police cars in 1975 as part of an SLA plot to avenge the deaths of six SLA members who were killed in a shootout with Los Angeles police officers. Although she was indicted in 1976, she remained at large until her 1999 capture in Minnesota.

Shaw was kidnaped in 1974 by the SLA. Following the kidnaping, she announced that she had joined the SLA and later participated in an armed bank robbery. After being captured in 1976, Shaw was tried on robbery charges. She contended at the trial that the SLA had raped and brainwashed her and that she should not be held responsible for the crime. Following her conviction, she served less than two years of a seven year sentence before being pardoned by President Jimmy Carter in 1979.

(California v. Olson; Media Counsel: Karen N. Frederiksen, Los Angeles)

© 2000 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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