Criminal Case No. 03-BE-0530-S
Yes. A limited number of reserved seats in the courtroom were made available to news organizations whose employees will attend the trial on a regular basis -- at least several times a week. If a news organization does not use its reserved seat on a regular basis, it may forfeit the seat for the duration of the trial. The trial is expected to last as long as four months.
A list of the news organizations granted reserved courtroom seats is on this page. The deadline for applications was January 7, 2005. No additional applications are being accepted.
Reporters without reserved courtroom seats will be seated in the courtroom on a first-come, first-served basis, or can view a closed-circuit video feed of the trial in the Jury Assembly Room on the courthouse's first floor. The courtroom seats approximately 120 spectators; the Jury Assembly Room seats approximately 180 spectators..
In the courtroom:
In the Jury Assembly Room:
Cameras, camera cell phones and recording devices are prohibited inside the courthouse. The trial will not be broadcast to the public. The court's Local Rule 83.2 states that "whether or not court is actually in session, there shall be no radio or television broadcasting or taking of photographs in or from the courtrooms or their environs during the progress of, or in connection with, any judicial proceeding . . ."
News organizations can set up their cameras and a pool microphone stand for newsmaker interviews on the sidewalk in front of the courthouse, on the corner of Fifth Avenue North and 18th Street North. To maintain pedestrian access to the courthouse, media activities on the raised sculpture plaza in front of the courthouse (visible in this photograph) are prohibited. Counsel and the defendant will enter and exit the building through the front door.
All parking is prohibited on the courthouse side of Fifth Avenue North and 18th Street North. There are metered spaces on the opposite side of those streets which can be used on a first-come, first-served basis by microwave and satellite trucks, as well as other vehicles. The closest public off-street parking locations are listed on this map of the courthouse area.
Reporters -- both print and electronic -- are prohibited from conducting interviews of anyone in the courthouse. Lawyers and others involved in the case have routinely made themselves available to the media at the microphone stand on the sidewalk in front of the courthouse. To ensure a fair trial for both sides, there are limits on the kinds of comments they can make. Those limits are described in the protective order issued by the court on April 13, 2004 at the request of both parties that follows the Alabama Rules of Professional Responsibility. The court's memorandum opinion describes the reasons for setting those limitations.
The media may not interview jurors. The prohibition on speaking to jurors stems from the requirement that jurors be free to deliberate without any outside influences. If you contact a juror or his or her family, or speak about the case if you know you are in the presence of a juror, you could be found guilty of the crime of jury tampering. On December 16, 2004, the court ordered the jurors remain anonymous until the trial has concluded; they will be referred to by number in open court. Sketch artists are prohibited from drawing the jurors.
The term "juror" is defined to include individuals who have been summoned for jury service but have not yet been selected for the panel or excused. For instance, the prohibition covers speaking to prospective jurors who report to the courthouse to fill out the jury questionnaire. Only after they have been excused from jury service are prospective jurors free to speak to the media.
The judge handling this case does not give interviews. The Code of Conduct for United States Judges states that ďa judge should avoid public comment on the merits of a pending or impending action.Ē Under no circumstances should you call the judge's chambers. Questions for the court should be directed to the court's Chief Deputy Clerk Sharon L. Harris, at 205-278-1717 or Sharon_Harris@alnd.uscourts.gov.
No. But you may bring personal electronic devices -- including laptops, cell phones and wireless e-mail devices -- into the Jury Assembly Room if you plan to watch the trial from that room. But cell phones may not be used in the Jury Assembly Room because of the prohibition on broadcasting or transmitting the trial. Camera cell phones may not be brought into the building.
A very limited number of tables and wall outlets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis for spectators using laptops; most laptops will need to be powered by batteries. All items you bring into the Jury Assembly Room must be removed from the room at the end of each day.
There are telephones in the hallways on every floor except the second floor from which the public can make free local calls. There are no pay telephones in the courthouse; you cannot call long distance.
Exhibits become a part of the public record when they are admitted into evidence. The attorney using the exhibit will make an oral motion to admit it into evidence, the opposing counsel will have an opportunity to object, and the judge will rule on the motion. Only if the exhibit is admitted will the jury have a copy to review during deliberations.
One copy of paper exhibits that have been admitted into evidence during the trial's morning session will be made available during the lunch break in the Clerk's Office. Paper exhibits entered into evidence during the afternoon session will be made available at the end of the trial day. Copies cost 10 cents per page.
The court does not have the facilities to make copies of exhibits in other media, such as audio or video tapes. Reporters can request copies of such exhibits from the attorneys who offered them into evidence.
Attorneys may choose to show exhibits to the jury using the courtroom's electronic evidence presentation system. Exhibits shown on the system will also be displayed on the screens in the Jury Assembly Room.
Contact court reporter Teresa Roberson at 205-492-2483. Transcripts cost a minimum of $1 per page, with additional fees for expedited orders.
Contact the courtís Chief Deputy Clerk Sharon L. Harris, at 205-278-1717 or Sharon_Harris@alnd.uscourts.gov.