Media to cover today's Sandusky hearing in 'real time'
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BELLEFONTE, Pa. -- Reporters covering the preliminary hearing today of Jerry Sandusky will be permitted to file real-time updates from inside the courtroom after a judge decided Monday afternoon to change the rules.
McKean County Senior Judge John M. Cleland, who is handling motions on the child sex-abuse case, heard arguments from a number of media outlets Monday, including CNN, ESPN, the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, who claimed that rules preventing tweeting or emailing updates from inside the Centre County Courthouse prevent journalists from performing their jobs.
Judge Cleland, in an order issued two hours later, agreed, saying that he believed updates from inside the courtroom would "enhance the news gathering capabilities of reporters which is in the public interest."
On Dec. 6, Centre County court administrators had issued what they called a "decorum order" for the news media. In it, they prohibited the use of any kind of transmission from inside large Courtroom No. 1, and a satellite courtroom where the proceedings will be broadcast on closed-circuit television.
Judge Cleland also said that it is unlikely any media outlet would violate the still-standing rule that prohibits audio or video recording inside the courtroom, and even if that occurred, it would be easy to track down the violator. Further, he wrote that because the hearing is expected to conclude in one day, it is unlikely that any witness called to testify could have access to news accounts.
Michael Berry, the attorney who represented the media for the argument, also asked permission for reporters to be able to come and go from the courtroom freely. However, Judge Cleland denied that part of the request.
As part of his new order, the judge ruled that any members of the public who won the lottery to get seats inside the hearing will be prohibited from taking cellphones into the courtroom.
The state attorney general's office on Monday announced that Joseph E. McGettigan, its senior deputy attorney general, will serve as the lead prosecutor in the case against Mr. Sandusky, a former Penn State University assistant football coach.
Mr. McGettigan previously served as a chief deputy attorney general with the state attorney general's office and also was a first assistant district attorney the city of Philadelphia and was an Assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
First Published December 13, 2011 12:00 am