Audio and visual recording and photography will be allowed at the Friday sentencing of former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor, a judge ruled Monday.
"A judge must allow visual or audio coverage of sentencing proceedings absent good cause," wrote Hennepin County District Judge Kathryn Quaintance. "… Neither party has objected to the notices [requesting camera access] or provided the Court with good cause as to why the sentencing should not be recorded."
The judge is allowing one video camera with one operator, two still cameras operated by one person and one separate audio recording system. Media outlets that filed timely requests for recording access were the Star Tribune, four local TV stations, Minnesota Public Radio, the Associated Press, WCCO Radio, four Australian news outlets and Agence France-Presse, an international news agency based in France.
The judge denied a request for audio and visual coverage made by Caroline & Co., noting that the court's researched showed the company "is not an entity registered with the Secretary of State in Minnesota and that it does not produce original audio or visual content or information."
Jurors convicted Noor, 33, on April 30 of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the 2017 fatal shooting of Justine Ruszczyk Damond.
Quaintance set out several rules in order to keep distractions to a minimum during recording and photography of the sentencing, scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday.
"The Court is concerned that the video and still cameras used do not produce distracting light and are as quiet as possible," she wrote. "Media personnel must demonstrate to the Court that the equipment sought to be utilized meets these requirements" before the proceedings.
The still camera photographer "shall assume a fixed position within a designated area" and minimize movement to avoid creating distraction, she wrote, adding that use a of a tripod is preferable.
A jury room adjacent to the courtroom will be made available to media for equipment and a pool feed of the recording.
Arguments made by prosecutors and defense attorneys can be recorded, the judge wrote. Off-limits, she said, are: the courtroom anytime the judge is not at her seat, bench conferences between the judge and attorneys, "the gallery in any fashion" and other parts of the courthouse where recording is not allowed.
Victims and victim-impact statements can be recorded only if the victims give permission, she wrote.
"At this time, no victim has given written consent," she said.
Noor's attorneys have filed a motion noting that they plan to ask for no prison time at his sentencing. Alternatively, they said, if the judge denies that request, they will ask for less prison time than state sentencing guidelines recommend.
The maximum prison term for third-degree murder is 25 years; the maximum for second-degree manslaughter is 10 years. State sentencing guidelines call for a prison term of about 11 to 15 years for third-degree murder for defendants, such as Noor, who have no criminal history.
Prosecutors have not responded to that motion, and the judge has not issued a decision on the matter. The judge also has not ruled on a defense motion of acquittal on all counts.
Noor and his partner, Matthew Harrity, were responding to Damond's 911 call about a possible sexual assault behind her south Minneapolis home on July 15, 2017.
Noor testified at trial that he and Harrity were parked at the end of the alley close to midnight when a loud bang on their squad car terrified them, and that he shot when he saw Damond raising her arm at Harrity's open window because he thought they were being ambushed.