Media fight Brett Hankison’s request to ban media from part of trial | In depth

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – An attorney for former Louisville Metro Police Detective Brett Hankison has asked a judge to bar the public and media from part of the jury selection for his trial of the February 1 on charges of wanton endangerment on March 13, 2020 Raid of Breonna Taylor.

Cincinnati attorney Stew Mathews, who represents Hankison, argued in a motion that allowing the media and the public to watch the individual questioning of potential jurors would have a “chilling effect on the candor expected of potential jurors.

“It makes no sense to prevent other jurors from hearing prejudicial answers in the courtroom if, at the same time, the media is free to broadcast them,” Matthews said in a Jan. 21 petition. .

He also said media reports could “affect potential jurors’ answers before they are questioned.”

But lawyers for three news outlets – The Associated Press, WDRB News and The Courier Journal – have filed motions arguing that the US Supreme Court has already ruled that jury selection must be done in public.

“When you have such a high-profile case, people need to be sure that a fair and impartial jury has been chosen,” said Michael Abate, one of the lawyers representing the media. “It is extremely important that people have ultimate confidence in the verdict.”

The Kentucky Attorney General’s Office, which is suing Hankison, also opposed the ban request, arguing that less restrictive measures could be taken.

“The Commonwealth recognizes the competing interests between the right to an impartial jury and the right of public and media access,” the motion said. “Here, the Commonwealth believes the balance favors access, even if the Court decides to impose certain limits on that access.”

A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday on the matter.

At a hearing last week, Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Ann Bailey Smith was the first to address the question of whether the media should be allowed in the courtroom for a see – say individual: the questioning of the jurors one by one. Smith told attorneys for both sides that she found case law that would allow for the exclusion of jurors if there was a hearing on the matter.

In his motion, Matthews points to a 1983 capital murder case that dealt with the exclusion of the media from individual jury selection. But Abate argued a U.S. Supreme Court case five months later overturning a decision that closed the individual voir dire to the public.

Abate also noted that after Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman excluded the media from jury selection in a high-profile case in 2004, the state Court of Appeals ruled. immediately suspended jury selection and sided with the Courier-Journal to allow press access.

Matthews also argues that given the controversy of the case, jurors have “a huge fear that their identities will be exposed, no matter what protections are in place.”

On September 23, 2020, Hankison was charged with shooting at a nearby apartment, showing “extreme disregard for human life” for three people inside, a grand jury found. He posted the bond the same day. Hankison also shot at another apartment, but it was empty.

Each charge of gratuitous endangerment carries a prison sentence of one to five years, if convicted. His trial is due to last until March.

Neither Hankison nor the two other officers who fired their weapons during the raid – Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove – have been charged in Taylor’s death. Taylor was killed by one of Cosgrove’s bullets, according to FBI ballistics findings released by Cameron.

Police shot and killed Taylor, a 26-year-old ER technician and former EMT, in an undercover raid on her apartment on Springfield Drive as part of a series of raids elsewhere that targeted narcotics trafficking.

Neither drugs nor money were found in her home.

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