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Texas Court Weighs Taping of Murder Trial Jury for TV

January 16, 2003|From Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas — The argument over letting a television show record deliberations in a murder trial reached the state's top court Wednesday, with prosecutors saying it would destroy jury confidentiality.

One judge questioned whether it would turn the process into "reality TV."

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals must decide whether a trial court judge has the authority to permit the videotaping and broadcast of jury deliberations in the murder case of 17-year-old Cedric Harrison, accused of killing a man during a carjacking in June. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

State District Judge Ted Poe in Houston agreed in November to allow the PBS documentary series "Frontline" to tape jury deliberations. It would be the first TV film of jury deliberations in a U.S. death penalty case, legal experts say. Prosecutors appealed Poe's decision as a violation of jury confidentiality.

Poe's attorneys argued that cameras could shed valuable light on the death penalty process. "We are better off as a society if we can see our citizens perform a duty that is literally life and death," lawyer Chip Babcock said.

But Harris County prosecutors argued the law has long protected deliberations as confidential.

The court will have the final say and didn't indicate when it would rule. Prosecutors said the issue is not open to review by federal courts.

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