Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Media appeal ban on electronic devices in murder trial

A number of Kentucky and Ohio news organizations have filed an emergency appeal of a judge's order banning all electronic devices from the courtroom in a Campbell County murder trial.

The appeal to the Kentucky Court of Appeals Court followed a ruling by Circuit Court Judge Julie Reinhardt Ward that banned cameras and any live broadcasting, including blogging, from the trial of Cheryl McCafferty.

She is accused of shooting her husband, Robert, in June 2007 in their home in Ft. Thomas. At lest two national network shows, plus many local media outlets, were attempting to cover the trial in Newport.

The ban on blogging and live video from the courtroom would set a dangerous precedent, said WCPO news director Bob Morford.

"If the media said OK to that, we would never be able to cover another court case ever with anything other than paper and a pen," Morford said. "I think the judge is smart enough to know that, so I don't know why, therefore, she would make this claim."

Cincinnati Enquirer attorney Jack Greiner said the ban on still photography didn't seem to relate to any concerns Ward expressed about influencing witnesses' testimony. The ban on laptops and digital recording equipment also unnecessarily inhibits the ability of reporters to do their jobs, he said. Both are tools reporters routinely use to gather news.

The petition filed with the Court of Appeals to allow cameras and blogging can be viewed at

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