Judge expected to allow media to give real-time updates from PSU hearings
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A Dauphin County judge is expected to allow tweeting, emailing and texting by media covering the preliminary hearings Friday of two top Penn State University officials charged in the Jerry Sandusky case, Dauphin County Common Pleas Court Administrator Carolyn Thompson said Wednesday.
"My understanding is he's going to allow it all," Ms. Thompson said of the order expected from President Judge Todd A. Hoover in response to a motion by six national media outlets.
The outlets -- ABC, The Associated Press, CNN, ESPN, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal -- filed a joint motion Wednesday morning asking Judge Hoover to modify a "decorum order" entered last week.
That order allowed the public and press to attend the upcoming preliminary hearings for Gary Schultz, former Penn State senior vice president of business and finance, and athletic director Timothy M. Curley and permitted the use of laptops by reporters for note-taking, but it barred any transmission of information from laptops, cell phones or similar devices.
An identical situation arose earlier this week in connection with Mr. Sandusky's preliminary hearing Tuesday in Centre County.
In that case, McKean County Senior Judge John M. Cleland, who was presiding, modified his own decorum order and allowed media to file real-time updates from the courtroom.
Judge Cleland's change of heart came in response to a motion by the same media outlets seeking to modify the rules for the upcoming hearings. He wrote that allowing media to email and update the news through social media such as Twitter "will enhance the news gathering capabilities of reporters, which is in the public interest."
Judge Cleland's decision is serving as a blueprint for Judge Hoover. "He is going to prepare an order similar to Judge Cleland's," Ms. Thompson said.
The order is expected to be issued by this afternoon.
In the motion, attorneys for the media outlets argued that real-time reporting "serves a significant public interest and vindicates the public's constitutional right to access these proceedings."
Mr. Curley, 57, is on leave from his position, and Mr. Schultz, 62, retired. Both men face charges of perjury and failing to report the possible sexual abuse of a child before District Judge William C. Wenner.
They were charged after testifying before a statewide grand jury investigating allegations against Mr. Sandusky, a former Penn State football coach.
First Published December 15, 2011 12:00 am