Huguely sentencing: Cameras in courtroom denied-- again
Calling it a "dangerous" precedent, Judge Edward Hogshire quickly denied a media motion Wednesday to allow cameras in the courtroom when George Huguely gets sentenced later this summer for killing his former girlfriend, Yeardley Love.
At the July 25 hearing, Huguely wore black-and-white striped prison garb instead of the suits and blazers he wore during his February trial, and he sported longer hair and didn't appear to have shaved before court. His mother and stepfather, Marta and Andrew Murphy, sat in the front row.
Judge Hogshire seemed unswayed by arguments from attorney Greg Duncan. Representing NBC29, and referring to a Virginia statute, Duncan sought the right to put a television camera in Charlottesville Circuit Court when Huguely is sentenced August 30 for second-degree murder and grand larceny.
"There are nine situations in which a camera is not allowed," said Duncan. "Sentencing is not one of them."
"There's never going to be a case of this import to the citizens of Charlottesville," added Duncan.
Daily Progress director of photography Andrew Shurtleff, representing the Virginia Press Association, requested a still camera in the courtroom. The prosecution and defense, however, were unified in keeping out cameras.
The issue was addressed last year with the only difference being that no one is suggesting building camera platforms this time, said Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Chapman, who claimed that witnesses would be less willing to participate in televised proceedings.
"Those images and words will be forever accessible in the public domain," intoned Chapman, who said he'd be calling three witnesses at the sentencing to describe specific things Huguely did before beating Love to death.
Presumably pointing to frequent Twitter, Facebook, and other postings, defense attorney Rhonda Quagliana pointed out that the open sentencing meant that any citizen needing immediate information could simply visit a media website.
"This case will quickly be appealed," said Quagliana. "Mr. Huguely will appear in this court or some other court and should have the right to a fair trial... without it being on the Internet or videotape."
"The thing that's somewhat unusual in my experience is the intensity of the media coverage," said Judge Hogshire, noting the youth of many of the witnesses, who were not long out of college. "What effect does media coverage have on their willingness to come forward?"
Hogshire said that several factors concerned him and noted that cameras are not allowed in the U.S. Supreme Court.
"I've never understood," said Hogshire, "how the presence of cameras enhanced the judicial proceeding."