March, 29, 2019
The Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists vehemently opposes the severe restrictions to media and public access imposed by Hennepin County District Court Judge Kathryn L. Quaintance in the trial of former Minneapolis Police officer Mohamed Noor, who has been charged with murder.
While Judge Quaintance has the authority to manage the courtroom, the actions in this case to severely limit the media and the public is overreach and an unnecessary infringement of First Amendment rights to access a public proceeding.
Several news organizations have been excluded from attending the trial in person and public seating has been limited to just 11 seats.
While the court accommodated the media’s petition to provide an overflow room with video and audio, the access to full in person coverage of a trial remains unduly limited in one of the biggest murder trials in Minnesota history. The media also will be blocked from seeing body camera footage.
We call on the chief judge of Hennepin County court along with Minnesota Supreme Court administration to change the courtroom in this case to allow for the largest possible space and fully open access to this important trial.
These kind of restrictions are unprecedented in the history of Minnesota jurisprudence. We consider these restrictions serious breaches of the public trust.