LOS ANGELES —The 2017 9th Circuit Central District of California Media Conference was designed to bring together judges, lawyers and journalist to discuss the complex issues surrounding when police shootings or excessive force is caught on video.
The conference was scheduled for March 27 at the new federal courthouse in Los Angeles. Journalists, members of the State Bar of California and law-enforcement community were expected to attend.
A panel of judges, lawyers and journalists were scheduled the complicated relationship between video of police, media and the public.
“The idea is to talk to the people that are talking to the people,” David Madden, assistant circuit executive, told the Northern California Record. “So we put together programs for the the media that help them better understand the judicial processes, the limitations on judicial speech, but also to enlighten our judges on as to what the nature of what journalists do and how they approach the subject and their needs in this process.”
The list of panelists was to include U.S. District Judge Andre Birotte Jr., Arif Alikhan with the Los Angeles Police Department, attorneys Dale K. Galipo and Thomas C. Hurrell, and journalists Beverly White and Jim Newton.
Chief Judge Sidney R. Thomas of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit and Chief Judge Virginia A. Phillips of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California were scheduled to speak during the luncheon portion of the program on topics related to video and court proceedings including the appellate court’s use of live audio and video streaming.
“As you delve into it, you learn that it’s a very complicated subject and there are multiple interests involved,” Madden said. “The idea is to make that more understandable to the public and that recognizes that the general public gets most of its information about the courts from the media.”
Video has been used as evidence in high-profile incidents like the fatal police shootings of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota, according to The Advocate. However, video evidence also proves to be a complicated matter in civil suits.
In February, a three-judge panel of 9th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the Los Angeles suburb of Gardena claim that a judge prematurely released video of a fatal police shooting of an unarmed man.
Judge Stephen V. Wilson ordered the Gardena Police Department to release dash-camera footage of the shooting after the Los Angeles Times, the Associated Press and Bloomberg requested the video arguing First Amendment right to access court documents. Later, the city appealed the case saying Wilson abused his power as a judge by not delaying the release of the video until they could get a temporary stay and was pursuing the issue to change any similar future events.
“Over the past several years, there’s been plenty of incidents involving excessive force and they often are caught on video, and this is an opportunity to examine the competing interests at play when video exist,” Madden said.
According to Madden, the circuit used to hold similar conferences and media programs, but this is the first one since 2011. He said they would like to take this program to other parts of the district and utilize regional experts in each area.