Video Feed of Poplawski Shooting Trial OK

By Tribune-Review, Pittsburgh | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 17, 2011 | Go to article overview

Video Feed of Poplawski Shooting Trial OK


Tribune-Review, Pittsburgh, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


It's not quite Court TV, but officials are taking the unusual step of broadcasting the trial of Pittsburgh cop-killing suspect Richard Poplawski on a closed-circuit video feed to an expected overflow crowd of spectators in the Allegheny County Courthouse.

Court administrator Ray Billotte announced plans for the video feed on Thursday as workers installed a camera in the courtroom of Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning. Billotte and the judge were attending a conference in Seven Springs and did not return calls for comment.

Veteran attorneys said they believed it was the first time a trial would be broadcast in Allegheny County, even if only to another courtroom.

"I think it should be done, especially with three families in this case," said defense attorney Bill Difenderfer, who is not affiliated with the case. "I think there's no issue to it. It really has nothing to do with the case and wouldn't impact the trial. It's no different than expanding the courtroom."

Cameras typically are banned in Pennsylvania courtrooms, although several other states, including Florida and California, allow live broadcasts of trials to the public.

Art Heinz, a spokesman for the state Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, said state rules allow judges latitude in determining how to handle high-profile cases, including allowing for closed-circuit video feeds. The office does not keep statistics on how many times video feeds have been permitted.

The feed for the Poplawski trial will not be available to any media organizations.

"We'd love to have cameras in the courtroom. Look at the Casey Anthony case in Florida -- there's so much interest in that case," said WPXI-TV News Director Mike Goldrick, referring to the ongoing trial in Orlando in which Anthony is accused of killing her 2-year- old daughter Caylee. "Local TV stations are running that trial as if they were Court TV. Cameras in the courtroom would certainly benefit the community."

Poplawski, 24, is accused of fatally shooting three city police officers on April 4, 2009, as they responded to a domestic disturbance call at his mother's Stanton Heights home. Opening statements in the trial are scheduled to begin Monday morning.

The closed-circuit feed will be shown in Courtroom 313, the largest in the courthouse, with seating for about 130 people. …

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