Tensing hearing covers media rules, juror selection

Tensing hearing covers media rules, juror selection
Samuel DuBose and Ray Tensing (FOX19 NOW/file)
Samuel DuBose and Ray Tensing (FOX19 NOW/file)
Tensing enters the courtroom during his first trial last fall. (Photo: Cincinnati Enquirer)
Tensing enters the courtroom during his first trial last fall. (Photo: Cincinnati Enquirer)

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Safety and protection of the jurors are top priorities for Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Leslie Ghiz, who is presiding over the murder retrial of a former University of Cincinnati police officer.

Ray Tensing, 26, faces charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter in the July 2015 shooting death of Sam DuBose.

In November a jury failed to reach a verdict and the case was declared a mistrial. Voir Dire, jury questioning, for the re-trial is scheduled to begin May 25 and Ghiz spelled out guidelines and rules for media coverage on Thursday.

Ghiz referred to concerns from the November trial, including the fact that at one point a juror - worried their identity would be made public by the media - refused to return to the courtroom.

Ghiz said she does not want a change of venue, so the protection of the jurors is crucial.

"It is not in the best interest to move the trial," Ghiz said at Thursday's hearing. "Everyone involved in the trial is in Hamilton County.  It's not fair to all parties to move it, so we need to protect the jurors."

A court order specified rules for the media, including:

-Two courtroom seats will be reserved for a video and still photographer.

-Three courtroom seats will be reserved for media outlets. The seats will be picked in a daily lottery.

-Outside of court staff, security and counsel, no one will be permitted to use electronic devices such as cell phones, tablets, laptops and recording devices for any purpose in the courtroom.

Court is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. and end at 1:30 p.m. because, according to Ghiz, she is concerned about the juror's attention spans.

We also learned Monday where the jury selection process stands.  1,000 jury summons were sent out.  207 were not returned and 60 were not delivered.  Of the 733 returned summons, 235 people remain in the jury pool.

Another hearing is planned for May 22. Jury selection is scheduled to begin May 25.

Prosecutors: Tensing's Confederate flag T-shirt relevant

The first trial lasted two weeks before ending in a hung jury and mistrial in November.

Tensing, 27, faces 15 years to life in prison if he is convicted of the murder charge.

The lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of 11 years.

UC fired Tensing the day Deters announced Tensing's murder indictment in July 2015, 10 days after the shooting.

University officials also announced at that time the campus police department would undergo an exhaustive, top-to-bottom review.

In January 2016, UC leaders announced they settled with DuBose's family for $4.85 million plus free tuition for his 12 children valued at an additional $500,000.

The total value of the settlement is about $5.3 million.

UC also agreed to put up a memorial commemorating DuBose on campus, a formal apology from UC President Santo Ono and to invite DuBose family to participate in UCPD's Community Action Council to help aid campus police reform.

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