FAIRFAX, Va. – A coalition of broadcasters filed court papers Thursday seeking permission to broadcast the trial and pretrial hearings of sniper suspect Lee Boyd Malvo.
The motion by the Radio-Television News Directors Association argues that Virginia law presumes cameras should be permitted unless a party shows good cause to ban them. It also argues that the public interest is served by allowing television viewers to watch the proceedings.
"The right of a 'public' trial belongs not only to the accused, but to the public as well," attorney Barbara Van Gelder wrote in the motion.
Virginia law allows judges to decide whether to allow cameras. Fairfax County Circuit Judge Jane Roush, who is presiding over the Malvo case, has temporarily barred television and still cameras but agreed to hear arguments on the issue.
Malvo's attorneys oppose cameras in the courtroom, arguing they could taint public perception and the jury pool for future trials.
Malvo, 17, and John Allen Muhammad, 42, are accused of killing 13 people and wounding six in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
The judge in the Muhammad case already has ruled against TV cameras but will allow still cameras.
Muhammad goes on trial Oct. 14. Malvo goes on trial Nov. 10. Both could be sentenced to death if convicted on the Virginia charges.
ABC, CBS, CNN, Court TV, Fox News, NBC, the Virginia Association of Broadcasters and other groups joined the news directors association in filing the motion.