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Judge Denies Request to Televise Moussaoui Trial

BY Admin  January 18, 2002 at 12:00 PM EDT

U.S. District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema rejected a request by the Court TV cable network to overturn the long-held ban on cameras in federal courtrooms and allow Moussaoui’s trial to be broadcast.

Brinkema said the ban on filming federal trials, in place since 1946, “does not violate the constitutional rights of either the public or the broadcast media.”

The judge said she also weighed security concerns in reaching her decision.

“Given the issues raised in the indictment, any societal benefits from photographing and broadcasting these proceedings are heavily outweighed by the significant dangers worldwide broadcasting of this trial would pose to the orderly and secure administration of justice,” Brinkema wrote.

Brinkema had earlier expressed concern TV coverage could have a chilling effect on witnesses at the trial.

The decision comes despite arguments from Court TV and C-SPAN that the public had a right to view the proceedings.

“We were witnesses to the collapse, to the horrible bombing of those buildings; we should be allowed to be witness to the proceedings of someone allegedly to have been part of the planning of that destruction,” Henry Schleiff, Court TV’s chairman and CEO, told the NewsHour Jan. 9.

Lawyers for the networks argued the ban on cameras in the courtroom was unconstitutional.

Moussaoui’s lawyers had also requested the trial be televised, saying such a move would provide “an added layer of protection” for a fair trial.

In her decision, Brinkema said members of the public and the media will be allowed to attend the trial. She said daily transcripts of the trial will be made available electronically.