Judge says he had no obligation to disclose prosecutor's live feed of court hearings

A judge in Warren County, Ohio, is defending his decision to allow a live camera and audio feed of hearings and trials to be piped into the prosecutor’s office.

Judge James Flannery said judges had no obligation to tell lawyers about prosecutor David Fornshell’s cameras; instead it was up to lawyers to ask about them, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. The Dayton Daily News also has a story.

Fornshell told the newspapers the audio feed he receives with the video is the same audio feed that goes to media rooms. Signs at defense lawyers’ tables warn them to mute the microphone during private conversations. Though Fornshell can move the cameras, “I cannot zoom in on anything,” he told the Dayton Daily News.

“They are acting like this is some secret surveillance,” Fornshell said of defense lawyers who are complaining. “This audio has been in [the media room] for a dozen years,” he told the Enquirer.

Flannery first approved Fornshell’s request for the video and audio feed, as long as it wasn’t recorded, in the 2011 trial of a man accused of running over and killing a sheriff’s sergeant during a high-speed chase. Since then camera feeds from all three courtrooms in the county go to the prosecutor’s office, although there is a problem with audio in one of the courtrooms.

Presiding Judge Robert Peeler said judges met to discuss the issue on Wednesday and decided there was no problem with the video feed. “I think this is much ado about nothing,” he told the Cincinnati Enquirer. He added that he has no reason to believe attorney-client privilege had been violated.

Defense lawyer John Kaspar told the Dayton Daily News he first heard about the video feed after the family of his murder client complained they could hear everything he was saying at the defense table.

Revised on Aug. 28 to include full name of prosecutor on first reference.

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