Iowa district judge James Richardson ordered the Carroll (IA) Daily Times Herald’s Jared Raney not to take notes during a vehicular homicide trial on Wednesday. The reporter says he was told that his scrawls might “influence the jury in that they might think something is important if they see me writing.”
After lawyers got involved, Richardson proposed a compromise: Raney — a summer intern who started the job this week — and other reporters could take notes in an area of the courtroom where jurors couldn’t easily see them.
Kathleen Richardson of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council says:
This is the first time I’ve heard of a judge prohibiting a journalist – or anyone else, for that matter – from taking notes with a pen and paper in the courtroom. There is a long-recognized legal right of the public to attend criminal proceedings and for the news media to cover them, as surrogates of the public. And it would be impossible for a journalist to accurately report on a trial without being able to take notes.