Wednesday, April 12, 2017, 12:00 pm
This morning, Circuit Court Judge Margaret Carey-McCray denied the request of The Taxpayers Channel to cover a medical malpractice trial currently underway at the Leflore County courthouse.
TTC has never before been denied the right to film judicial proceedings, and has covered five different trials over the past several years.
The MISSISSIPPI RULES FOR ELECTRONIC AND PHOTOGRAPHIC COVERAGE OF JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS provides for the right of electronic media to cover trials in our state courts, subject to various reasonable requirements. Those rules may be viewed here: Rules for Media Coverage of Trials
TTC provided notice to the court late Monday afternoon of its intention to cover the trial, as soon as we were informed it would take place. Jury selection, which cannot be covered under the rules, took until late Tuesday afternoon. The trial concerns a patient who has sued local physician Dr. Harold J. Wheeler for malpractice. The suit is being brought by the colorful attorney Carlos Moore of Grenada.
But this morning, John Pittman Hey, TTC's manager, was called into chambers, where Judge McCray, and all the attorneys, were present. Without hearing any arguments or reasons, Judge McCray announced that she was denying TTC's request to video tape the trial.
Judge McCray claimed that the notice should have been filed last week, even though Rule 5 clearly states that "The presiding justice or judge may shorten or waive the time for advance notice."
Judge McCray stated that, because she had not notified the potential jurors before they were questioned that cameras would not be permitted to photograph them in any way, they might have somehow "changed their answers." TTC always strictly complies with the rules prohibiting photographing the jurors, and it isn't clear how not photographing the jurors might somehow influence them in any way.
No substantive reasons for the denial were given to TTC by Judge McCray.
The Taxpayers Channel has been operating as a local "C-SPAN" type media outlet that covers public events of all sorts since 1992. Since 2006, over 1300 different events have been posted and are available for viewing on our website.
To view various court proceedings we have covered, visit our site at TTC Court Proceedings.
John Pittman Hey
The Taxpayers Channel