Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bobby Cutts ground rules claim lots of trees

Court officers killed a lot of trees today notifying the media of the ground rules for covering Bobby Cutts in court, beginning tomorrow. Cutts was indicted today on murder charges that carry a possible death penalty.

For starters, Cutts will be arraigned Friday morning at 10 a.m. in a special hearing at the County Jail. Usually, inmates are arraigned at the courthouse, but with the media crush, court leaders asked for special permission to use a conference room at the jail for the formalities.

This afternoon, court officials faxed our newsroom an 18 pages of "do's" and "don'ts" for the media to follow when covering Cutts and co-defendant Myesha Ferrell. Considering the prosecutor's cover page contains 55 media contacts (including five each from WAKR and WEWS-TV), that's 55 times 18 for a whopping 990 pages that roared out of fax machines today. Couldn't someone have saved a few trees and some ink and just put all these rules on the web? Maybe just fax out a one-page note with a link?

Among the rules set for the by the court are the obvious ones: stay in the assigned areas, don't bring any weapons with you, place nice with others, etc ...

A few new ones popped us as well. The court prohibits zooming in cameras during sidebars to keep folks at home from reading the lips of the attorneys and the judge. The courts also prohibit the erecting of any media tents, chairs, or tables. I think that's probably in response to how many folks began living outside the Stark Sheriff's Office in June during the time Jessie Davis was missing.

The courts also prohibit all interviews conducted inside the courthouse. This could get sticky for those folks who DO want to be interviewed. There's not a lot of easy assembly space on the square outside the courthouse. Plus, a media throng attracts on-lookers. Still, the rule makes sense in that it will keep the court's hallways moving and clear.

It's obvious the courts have a plan and will demand order during the circus that's about to set up all three rings in downtown Canton. Still, I can just imagine the reception this circus train will receive when-or-if the case is moved to another county.

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