Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Illustration for article titled Twitter Banned From Jerry Sandusky Trial, Which Starts Next Week

Jury selection will begin tomorrow in Jerry Sandusky's trial, after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied Lawyerin' Joe Amendola's latest motion to postpone proceedings. That leaves opening arguments on track for next week. But John Cleland, the presiding judge, made a pair of rulings today will have immediate impact for the alleged victims and the media covering the trial.

The witnesses who will testify that Sandusky sexual abused them will not be able to use pseudonyms in court, the judge ruled. They will have to testify under their real names, although efforts will be made to protect their privacy.

"Arguably any victim of any crime would prefer not to appear in court, not to be subjected to cross-examination, not to have his or her credibility evaluated by a jury — not to put his name and reputation at stake," the judge wrote. "But we ask citizens to do that every day in courts across the nation."


Cleland's second ruling is actually a reversal of his earlier position, and one that's going to significantly affect how the trial is covered by the media and consumed by readers. Previously, the judge said he would allow electronic communications from the courtroom—Pennsylvania state law only bans broadcasting while court is in session—but that reporters would not be able to relay verbatim testimony. This was confusing. Could reporters Tweet? Update on their newspapers' liveblogs? Could they paraphrase quotes? Could they write about what a witness or defendant was doing, rather than saying? On Friday they asked the judge to clarify, and that ruined it for everyone.

Cleveland decided today that no electronic communication of any kind will be allowed in his courtroom, writing, "It is readily apparent from the allegations in the media's motion ... that the standard I applied in my definition is confusing to reporters, unworkable, and, therefore, likely unenforceable." No tweets for anyone! We're going to have to do this the old-fashioned way—courtroom sketches and day-end wrapups and for once, slightly less the maximum amount of spectacle.

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