02/19/2019: "Judge Rules Court Room Video Will Be Released Either In Part Or Whole"
Judge Eaton ruled on Tuesday that one way or another, the security camera video recording of the proceedings of the jury trial on January 31 will not be made available to the public, although it may or may not have some redactions if found to be required to protect (future security concerns , as argued by both San Juan County prosecutor Randy Gaylord and Sheriff Ron Krebs.
Judge Eaton’s five page ruling noted that through his attorney, Michael T. Kitson, Sheriff Krebs’ argued a USB thumbdrive of the video should be entered into the court record because Court Rules allow the video to be sealed if it would “create a security threat by revealing the camera's blind spots,” and “that that threat outweighs the public's interest in viewing the video.”
Judge Eaton found that allowing the public to see all, or a portion, of the video was required to meet the “public's constitutional right to observe the administration of justice openly and fully.”
Judge Eaton had granted the motion to dismiss all of the charges in the January jury trial, he said, due “in large part on the fact that the video recording clearly indicated that a State actor intentionally manipulated the security camera in a way that unequivocally evidenced an effort to view defense counsel's notes, which are protected work product. That intentionality is not nearly as evident when viewing only the screenshots admitted as Exhibits 4-9. The Court concludes that the video recording contained in the thumbdrive has a direct and substantial relationship to the Court's dispositive decision in this case, the dismissal of all charges against the Defendant. A sealing of that video therefore implicates the public's right to an open court under Article 1, Section 10 ofthe Washington State Constitution. “
However Judge Eaton said he was willing to review suggestons from Krebs attorney and Prosecutor Gaylord as to the redacting some portions of the video that would be released to the public, an least “To the extent the Court can be persuaded that other portions of the video might in some way actually compromise the efficacy of the cameras, the Court would consider redacting those particular identified portions from the recording. “
There were however limits to what he would accept, and “the portions of the video during which the camera is manipulated to zoom in on what is depicted in Exhibits 4-10 may not be redacted. In addition, those unredacted portions must include some time just before each manipulation begins and some time after each ends, in order to provide adequate context for each manipulation. The Court will determine the duration of each unredacted portion of the video. And in light of the presumption of openness, the Court 'will only approve redactions, if any, for those limited portions that the Court is persuaded would constitute such a serious and imminent threat to Sheriff Krebs' need to provide security in the Courtroom that his interest outweighs the public's interest under Article 1, Section 10 of the Washington State Constitution.”
Judge Eaton made it clear that: “Should the Court remain unpersuaded, the entire video will be unsealed.”
Krebs and Gaylord have until February 28 to present any redaction recommendations to the court. The earning will be held at 10:00 in the SJC District Court room.