Not your call, your honor
Perhaps the press is being too polite. The judges in the Kobe Bryant rape case have no right to order the news media not to identify the alleged victim in print or on the air. And District Judge Terry Ruckriegle has no standing to tell the newspapers what they can or can not print.Thus far, the media entities that received an inadvertent release of sealed court hearing transcripts have refrained from publishing them. And that’s the right course in a case in which the authorities’ actions have been screwier and screwier – from the local sheriff ordering Bryant’s secret arrest last Fourth of July before the DA decided he even had a case, through the Hangman T-shirt fiasco in which prosecutors and Sheriff’s Office employees accepted shirts that show a certain bias toward the defendant, and now a court clerk accidentally dispatching sealed records to a select seven news media establishments.Now the judge is trying to exercise prior restraint on the press, an obvious constitutional no-no. (Are we still sending these folks to law school before putting them on the bench?) Who would imagine with this case’s cluster of goofs and funky turns that the very model of common sense would the press?The reason that the alleged victim’s name has not appeared in accounts from reputable outlets is that each paper and broadcaster has decided against doing that. This is an editor’s call, not a judge’s. The restraint with regard to those transcripts is a decision made by the journalists – who in this country have the right and authority to do so, whatever a judge may threaten.At the Daily the judge only tests our patience, and overriding sense of the greater good, by playing the tin horn.
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