This is a curious situation indeed. One that may be far more complex than it first appears.

The simple version goes like this. Judge Perry is without doubt a ‘wired’ kind of a man. His courtroom has been designed to incorporate technology. Technology is an area that he is familiar with. Electronic gizmos abound. He understands the ‘new world’ and how the role of and needs of the press have changed over the past decade.

He has in my opinion been very accommodating to the media. It is obvious that the Casey Anthony trial is one that will garner great public interest, and therefore great media interest. So intense was the media coverage that the Defense asked that the trial be held somewhere other than Orlando.

Judge Perry selected a different solution, the trial would take place in Orlando, but the jury would be selected from a different area. From a straight economic standpoint this made a huge amount of sense. It would cost far less to move the trial than import 20 jurors from elsewhere.

Judge Perry was however concerned that the jury pool not be tainted by a huge media interest in the new location for the selection process. And so opted to keep the location a secret. He did however a ‘bone’ to the press, he would give them advance notice of the location to permit them time to move personnel and equipment into situ, but they could not broadcast the location until the proceedings were underway.

This was obviously an issue for the major networks, they would miss the valuable Breakfast TV audience.

A loose group of media filed an emergency motion to lift the restriction.

Judge Perry denied the motion.

A subset of the original group have appealed his decision. Today is May/5 and Jury selection is slated to start on May/9. If the matter is not solved by the ‘end of business’ tomorrow, it is very unlikely that jury selection will begin on time. If that date slips, so will the start of the trial (May/17).

Rescheduling the trial date will be a logistical and economic nightmare for everyone involved. Judge Perry is quoted as saying that it might result in a six month delay.

All this over Breakfast TV ratings? One of the big losers in this whole debacle is the media themselves. Flights and Hotel rooms have been reserved, production teams and large satellite trucks are ready to roll. At least one news network (HLN) is already promoting a new daily program dedicated to the trial coverage.

For the media to hinder the progress of the trial looks like a fine example of self flagellation!

OK, the really short version of the long story. The media group is claiming that Judge Perry is interfering with their constitutional rights!

This is completely wrong, All he is saying is that if you want to know the secret you have to promise not to broadcast it. If you do not want the advance warning, thats fine. If you can track down the information have a ball, broadcast whatever you wish.

The Media group are using the argument that this is a precedent setting situation. If Judge Perry’s ruling is permitted to stand, it could affect any trial press coverage in the future.

This sounds like some thin ice to me!

I have some calls into some ‘legal eagles’ and I will be interested in their opinions on this situation.

More soon

Simon Barrett

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