Tensing retrial judge issues new order on media coverage - Cincinnati News, Weather, Sports from FOX19 NOW-WXIX

Tensing retrial judge issues new order on media coverage

Sam DuBose and Ray Tensing (FOX19 NOW/file) Sam DuBose and Ray Tensing (FOX19 NOW/file)
Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Leslie Ghiz (FOX19 NOW) Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Leslie Ghiz (FOX19 NOW)

Media access to the high-profile Ray Tensing retrial was the focus of a hearing at the Hamilton County Courthouse Thursday.

Last week, an appeals court sided FOX19 NOW and other media who protested Common Pleas Judge Leslie Ghiz's sharp restrictions for media members covering the trial.

In a second order issued late Thursday, Ghiz upheld most of the original restrictions, including a ban on cell phones and other electronic devices in the courtroom.

See the entire order here

Media members must place phones and other devices into a locking pouch prior to admission in the courtroom. Court staff, security and counsel are permitted to use electronics. 

The internet and social media make it easier for jurors to be found, Ghiz said, stressing that prospective jurors have expressed concern about their identities being revealed and their safety.

She said she has reviewed all 180 juror questionnaires and 77 prospective jurors didn't want to serve if their identities are revealed; 38 will not serve if their identities are revealed and 39 are afraid for their safety.

The second order did not mention the release of juror questionnaires but does say live video streaming will be permitted during jury questioning on Friday. The single pool camera shared by media outlets must be focused on the lectern and not show any prospective jurors. 

FOX19 NOW would never publicize the identities of the jurors in this case or any other case  unless the jurors wanted to.

Jury selection will resume Friday.

Ghiz opened Thursday's hearing by saying "hundreds" of recent media stories have circulated about the retrial. She read several headlines aloud in court.

First Amendment attorney Jack Greiner represented FOX19 NOW and other media at Thursday's proceedings.

Landes called two employees with the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office who testified about security concerns during the first trial and now as the retrial gets underway.

Attorney Mark Landes represented the court. He also represented Judge Megan Shanahan during the first trial, which ended in a deadlocked jury and mistrial.

FOX19 NOW would never publicize the identities of the jurors in this case or any other case  unless the jurors wanted to.

Greiner asked the judge to provide reasons for restrictions on judicial access.

The First District Court of Appeals on Friday said the judge could not impose the restrictions without first holding a hearing to allow media attorneys the opportunity to present arguments for a more open court:

  • Only five reporters – including a videographer and photographer – can be in the courtroom during the trial. With at least a dozen media outlets covering the case, several outlets would not be in the courtroom daily.
  • A lottery system to select which media outlets can be in the courtroom each day, which would prevent many reporters from seeing the make up of the jury pool.
  • Juror questionnaires won't be released – even with names and identifying information redacted – until after the trial was over.
  • The use of electronics are banned such as cell phones and laptops, which are commonly allowed in Ohio courtrooms.

The appeals court scheduled a hearing Wednesday to provide both sides the opportunity to present arguments.

But on Tuesday, the judge abruptly halted jury selection  and released potential jurors, telling them they were in a "holding pattern."

Hamilton County assistant prosecutors and defense attorneys had planned to question potential jurors Tuesday as they try to pare the jury pool down to 12 jurors and 4 alternates.

Now it's not clear when jury selection will continue. The soonest appears to be Friday.

Tensing, 27, testified during his first trial last fall that he feared for his life when he fatally shot Samuel DuBose as DuBose, 43, tried to drive away from a July 2015 traffic stop.

The former University of Cincinnati police officer faces charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter.

After the mistrial last fall, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said the jury was leaning toward a lesser conviction.

To convict Tensing of murder, jurors must find he purposely killed DuBose. The charge carries a possible sentence of 15 years to life in prison.

The voluntary manslaughter charge is killing during a sudden fit of rage and carries a possible sentence of three to 11 years.

Full coverage: Ray Tensing Retrial

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