In Topeka, Kansas, the judge presiding over the murder trial of Austin Tabor permitted cellphone cameras in the courtroom — with the condition that Kansas law, prohibiting close-ups that identify individual jurors, be adhered to.
During opening statements last Tuesday (April 10), Ann Marie Bush, a reporter for a local newspaper, took and tweeted a photo of the proceedings and didn’t notice catching one of the jurors in the background. This was brought to the court’s attention the following day, and a mistrial was declared.
A tentative August 13 retrial date was set, pending a court hearing this afternoon in which Tabor must waive his right to a speedy trial (which under Kansas law requires the state to try him no later than four days earlier). August 13 is the first date on which both the prosecution and defense attorneys are free.
Bush has apologized many times and in many venues for her mistake, and members of the public are suggesting that she or her newspaper reimburse the county for the additional trial expenses.
And now the photo itself, full sized (the juror is in front of the window):
Seriously? “Close-up that identifies an individual juror”?? I couldn’t tell that figure silhouetted in the window from my wife, Michelle Obama or Lindsay Lohan. The guys from CSI couldn’t extrapolate a face from that.
Well, probably they could, but that’s television and when they do that sort of thing it’s really kind of silly.
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© 2012 by Bill Bickel unless otherwise noted.