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An Idaho judge has signaled his willingness to bar news cameras from Lori Vallow Daybell's upcoming trial.
Judge Steven Boyce heard motions from Vallow Daybell's defense lawyers, Jim Archibald and John Thomas, on Thursday — including their August motion to bar cameras from the courtroom. Special Prosecutor Rob Wood and Fremont County Prosecutor Lindsey Blake have supported a ban on cameras, according to the East Idaho News.
Idaho attorney Steve Wright — representing 32 media outlets, including the East Idaho News, the Idaho Falls Post Register, Boise's Idaho Statesman, Idaho Falls ABC affiliate KIFI, Pocatello NBC affiliate KPVI, Boise Fox affiliate KIVI, Salt Lake City NBC affiliate KSL, Court TV, and NBC News — argued against the ban.
Both the defense and prosecutors argued that having cameras broadcasting in the courtroom would impede Vallow Daybell's ability to get a fair trial in the case, and suggested that the media's constitutional right to cover the trial didn't include a constitutional right to broadcast it.
Archibald further argued that media outlets weren't self-regulating their actions and were not acting in the true public interest.
"We let the media police themselves, and what did they do?" Archibald asked the judge, referring to the televised hearing in August. "They put microphones on our tables and cameras right in front of our faces."
Wright noted that both the cameras and the microphones on the table had been approved by the court.
“Thirty minutes was zoomed in on my client — what was the purpose?” Archibald added, according to the East Idaho News. "She didn’t make an argument. All she did was whisper to her lawyers. There was no point."
Wright argued that having cameras in the courtroom allowed for an open courtroom that would accommodate members of the public who couldn't otherwise physically attend.
"There is a significant difference in telling this court that this courtroom should be open, but only to people who physically want to come and sit in the courtroom, because if it's broadcast to other people, her rights are now jeopardized," he said, according to the East Idaho News.
Judge Boyce, however, seemed skeptical.
"I’m very concerned that this goes beyond access," he told Wright. "That this goes to creating a financial enterprise that revolves around this case.”
He also noted that he was sympathetic to the concerns of both the prosecutors and the defense that broadcasting in the courtroom was impeding a fair trial.
"At some point, if there is so much saturation that it presents a presumption of guilt," he added, according to the East Idaho News. "I think that’s entirely possible in that case, and I’ll tell you, I’m quite concerned in that happening here.
Lori Vallow Daybell, 48, and her husband, Chad Daybell, are facing charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder for the deaths of her children, Tylee Ryan, 16, and Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 7. She has also been indicted on one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, in the death of her immediately prior husband, Charles Vallow. Chad Daybell has also been accused of killing his first way, Tammy Daybell, in 2019. Both have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.
Vallow Daybell's trial had been delayed after the courts declared her incompetent to assist in her own defense, but Judge Boyce ruled that she'd been restored to competency in April. In May, he granted her request to be tried with Chad Daybell, pushing her trial to January.
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