A coalition of Minnesota media outlets is asking a judge not to prohibit them from viewing and copying evidence presented in the murder trial of a former Minneapolis police officer.
The court motion, filed by media attorney Leita Walker on Thursday, comes after a Hennepin County prosecutor asked Judge Kathryn Quaintance to block the public from viewing evidence in the high-profile trial of Mohamed Noor, who was convicted of murder last month. This week, Quaintance ruled the public and reporters could view the evidence, but she did not decide whether the data can be copied, photographed or videotaped.
In the motion, Walker argued its imperative for the public to be able to copy the evidence in order to fully understand and accurately report on it.
Under the prosecutor's proposal, "every time a journalist, whether sitting in the Twin Cities or Australia, doubted the accuracy of something in her notes — or any time a new story idea emerged, requiring a fresh review of the evidence — she would have to schedule another appointment to review the exhibits and take another trip to the courthouse," wrote Walker, which would "delay the dissemination of important information to the public."
Earlier this week, Walker sent letters to the city of Minneapolis, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety and the Hennepin County Attorney's Office requesting that they release electronic copies of the data no later than Friday.
This is the latest episode in local news outlets taking the unusual step of intervening in a criminal court case to fight for greater access to the trial. The coalition formed after Quaintance first planned to block the public from viewing key body-camera evidence in the courtroom along with the jury. Quaintance later reversed that decision.