On Wednesday afternoon, Charlottesville Circuit Court Judge Edward Hogshire ruled against local media outlets’ request for still and video cameras in the courtroom during the remainder of proceedings in George Huguely’s criminal case.
NBC29 put forth a motion requesting one video camera and one operator to be allowed in the courtroom during the Aug. 30 hearing. The Daily Progress requested one photographer and still camera.
“There is no chance that inadmissible evidence will somehow find its way on the news,” Greg Duncan, an attorney representing NBC29, said in court Wednesday.
“It’s an emotional time. I think that if the public gets to see that emotion rather than just hear about it, it will make a much bigger impact,” Andrew Shurtleff, a photographer for The Progress, told the judge.
Hogshire, who had previously ruled against a similar motion prior to the start of the three-week jury trial in February, was not persuaded.
“I’ve never understood how the presence of cameras enhance judicial proceedings,” Hogshire said.
Huguely was convicted of second-degree murder and grand larceny in connection with the death of his ex-girlfriend and fellow University of Virginia lacrosse player Yeardley Love. Her mother, Sharon Love, filed a $30 million wrongful death suit against Huguely earlier this year.
Both defense attorneys and Commonwealth’s Attorney Dave Chapman agreed that cameras should not be allowed in the courtroom for the sentencing hearing.
Defense attorney Rhonda Quagliana said that the criminal case has not been finalized, and that video and photographic evidence could impact the court’s ability to seat a jury in the future.
“This case is now before the court for a motion to set aside [the verdict], and it will certainly be appealed,” Quagliana told the judge.
She also stressed that the people interested in the trial had the opportunity to watch it live in the courthouse or in the alternate viewing area set up by the city of Charlottesville. News outlets using social media websites like Twitter were able to provide almost real-time coverage of the trial, she added.
Chapman expressed concern that cameras and microphones in the courtroom could intimidate witnesses.
“There are hurdles to their participation in terms of their comfort [and] their experience speaking publically,” Chapman said. “Imagine the way in which that, for an ordinary person, adds to their experience [as a witness],” he added.
Hogshire agreed that some witnesses would hesitate to testify if they knew they were at risk of “being exposed” to global media outlets that could obtain photographs and video recordings via the Internet.
“That’s what causes me so much concern,” Hogshire said. “We’re looking at worldwide coverage of everything that goes on.”
He denied the motion for cameras in the courtroom and said his ruling was final for the duration of the case.
Attorneys will next appear in court Tuesday to argue the defense’s claim that Chapman violated Maryland v. Brady by not telling the defense that a civil suit was pending even prior to the February trial.
Other pre-sentencing matters will be discussed at a hearing Aug. 22.
Should Huguely’s motion to set aside the verdict and for a new trial be denied, he will face formal sentencing Aug. 30.
Huguely was present in court Tuesday. He was unshaven with long, shaggy hair and had his hands and feet bound.
He did not speak except to tell his mother “I love you” before being escorted out of the courtroom