Home » Judge in Depp-Heard Case Criticized for Allowing TV Cameras

Judge in Depp-Heard Case Criticized for Allowing TV Cameras

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Millions of people are watching Penny AzkarateSupreme Court Justice of the Circuit Court in Fairfax County, Virginia, she presided over a defamation trial Johnny Depp When Amber Heard Last 6 weeks.

Azcarate maintains a modest presence, accepting and rejecting evidence, and sometimes advising Witnesses to focus on their questions. However, Azcarate’s most important decision may have been made a few weeks before the trial when court television allowed the court to operate two pool cameras.

According to Law & Crime, which livestreamed the whole thing, the number of viewers increased dramatically as the trial progressed. When Depp stood on the stand on Wednesday, the channel’s live audience peaked at 1,247,163. This is more than double the peak of the first testimony in April. And over the past few weeks, mashups of Depp’s reaction shots have spread around the world, making trial clips inevitable on social media.

Viewers have seen horrific and often disastrous testimony, especially from Hard, claiming that Depp had sexually assaulted her and attacked her to the point of fearing she would be killed. In her last appearance on Thursday’s stand, Hard said it was “humiliating” to relive those moments in front of the camera. Depp denied her claim of hard and accused her of making her elaborate hoax that destroyed his career.

Hard’s team tried to remove the camera from the trial and failed. At a pre-hearing hearing on February 25, lawyer Elaine Bredehoft said that not only was there interest from the “horrible anti-amber network”, but there was already a great deal of media attention.

“What they do is do whatever is at a disadvantage — see,” Bredehoft said. “They take a statement out of context and play it over and over again.”

Depp’s lawyer, Ben Chu, welcomed the camera. He said he shouldn’t be allowed to hide in court because Hard has already “trashed” Depp in the media.

“Mr. Depp believes in transparency,” Chu said.

Judge Penny Azcarate

In considering the issue, Azcarate pointed out that she received many media requests and she was responsible for keeping the proceedings open to observers. She worried that if the camera wasn’t allowed, a reporter would come to court, where she could cause a dangerous situation.

“I have no good reason not to do that,” Azkarate said.

Allowing Gavel-to-Gavel coverage gives viewers the opportunity to see all the evidence, assess the credibility of witnesses, and make their own decisions without being ruled out by the press. I did. However, some observers are worried that Azcarate’s decision may also have a chilling effect on victims of domestic violence.

“Allowing this trial to air is the only worst decision I can think of in the context of intimate violence and sexual violence in recent history,” said Professor Michel Douber of Stanford Law School. I did. “It has a far greater impact than this.”

Michelle Simpson Tugel, a lawyer who has represented victims of sex crimes in famous cases, said her clients often do not even want to use their real names in public court submissions. Now she is worried that she may have to be afraid to appear on live stream broadcasts.

“They see someone not only being aired, but being disassembled in such a hateful way,” she said. “Livestreaming is really just a way to expand what survivors are experiencing. How is the discourse that scares people to seek justice and talk about what they have experienced? I’m sad and tired of being born in. “

Under Virginia law, judges have almost complete discretion over whether to allow cameras in court.Enactment Here are some examples where cameras are bannedHowever, it includes the testimony of “victims of sexual crimes and their families.”

At a hearing on February 25, Bredehoft argued that Hard was a victim of sexual assault and therefore cameras should be banned. Azcarate does not accept the interpretation of the law and finding the rule does not apply to civil cases.

Cameras are rare in Virginia courts, according to several lawyers practicing in Virginia courts. A Fairfax County judge granted them in a 2013 trial by Julio Blanco Garcia, who was convicted of murdering a 19-year-old woman. But that was outlier, said Joe King, a criminal defense attorney based in Alexandria.

King represented Charles Sebrance, who was tried in Fairfax County and convicted of three murders in 2015. The case was notorious locally, but the judge rejected the broadcast request and instead allowed only still cameras. King said the judge also denied the media’s request to broadcast another murder trial he had dealt with in Alexandria.

“It’s very exceptional in Virginia,” he said. “We’ve always been against it. A lot is happening in large trials. I don’t think lawyers need to be distracted.”

In 2012, a Charlottesville judge refused to allow the camera in the trial and judgment of UVA lacrosse player George Yugley, who was convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend. The judge determined that the camera would have a detrimental effect on witnesses and jury trial candidates in future civil cases.Media organizations have appealed the ruling, but the Virginia Supreme Court Supported the judge’s decision..

Huguenot’s lawyer, Ronda Cuaryana, said she was worried that the camera would be making it difficult for him to get a fair trial. But she isn’t against the camera in all cases.

“It’s a tight balance,” she said, saying she saw the trial of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of killing George Floyd. “This is an example of a camera that serves an important purpose in court. People needed to see the trial. They needed to see the orderly operation of justice.”

Fairfax-based lawyer Lawrence McLafferty has filed a proceeding in the hallway from Depp Hard’s trial, seeing Depp’s supporters waiting outside every day for a glimpse of the actor. I have come. He said the Commonwealth is unlikely to see a similar situation soon.

“Virginia is a conservative place,” he said. “We’re new to cameras. It can be annoying and distracting, and there’s one more thing judges have to worry about. I don’t think we’ll see any more. “

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