Judge issues media-access order in police shooting retrial

June 2, 2017
FILE – In this Nov. 11, 2016, file photo, former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing, center, leaves court during jury deliberations in his murder trial in Cincinnati. Attorneys are expected to start questioning prospective jurors Tuesday, May 30, 2017, for the murder retrial of Tensing, a white police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black motorist in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

CINCINNATI (AP) — The judge in an Ohio police shooting retrial said Thursday that many potential jurors are worried about their identities being made public.

Hamilton County Judge Leslie Ghiz cited responses to juror questionnaires in the racially charged murder retrial of Ray Tensing, a white former University of Cincinnati police officer facing charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter for the 2015 shooting of Sam DuBose, an unarmed black man.

“They are seriously concerned about their safety,” the judge said after testimony in a hearing she called after news organizations won an appeals court ruling blocking her planned restrictions on news coverage, such as limiting the number of reporters and electronic devices.

Ghiz later in the day released a new plan on media access that followed closely her earlier ruling. The new order allows a fixed-position video camera during jury selection, placed so jurors can’t be seen, but it still sharply limits restrictions on the number of reporters and electronic devices.

News organizations are likely to appeal again.

Ghiz noted in her order Thursday that she will make a decision “in the near term” on requests for juror questionnaires. She has said that she wouldn’t release questionnaires completed last week by 180 potential jurors until after the trial ends. The lengthy questionnaires are meant for attorneys’ use to assess their attitudes on race, police, and other issues as well as their knowledge or opinions about the Tensing case.

The media has argued that juror questionnaires are considered public, unless there is a compelling reason to keep them secret.

Ghiz said she intends to resume jury selection Friday. The jury in Tensing’s first trial deadlocked in November.

Tensing, 27, has testified he feared for his life as DuBose, 43, tried to drive away from a traffic stop.

The DuBose shooting is among cases across the United States that have increased attention in recent years to how police deal with blacks.


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