Tuesday, December 3, 2013
An unusual and unexpected disagreement between the prosecution and the media erupted yesterday during opening statements in the Kelly Thomas case. The prosecution objected to not receiving the media’s live feed coverage of opening statements by District Attorney Tony Rackauckas and John Barnett, one of the defense attorneys. When representatives of media organizations covering the trial refused to hook them up, Judge William Froeberg ordered them to remove their video and audio recording equipment from the courtroom.
The dispute was unusual and unexpected because gavel to gavel media coverage of trials in state courts is not new and courts have developed a uniform rule that requires media organizations to pool their resources (AKA: the Pooling Agreement) to minimize distractions, accidents and confusion caused by people stumbling over electrical cords and breaking expensive equipment. Pursuant to the agreement, participating media organizations agree to limit coverage to one organization per day assigned on a rotating basis with all participating organizations sharing the live feed generated from the courtroom by the organization with the duty.
The participating media organizations yesterday refused to share the live feed with the Orange County District Attorneys Office because it is not a media organization participating in the pooling agreement.
Hopefully, cooler heads have prevailed today and the cameras are back in place.