JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- In an emergency motion filed with the First District Court of Appeal late Tuesday, local media outlets including First Coast News and the Florida Times-Union asked appeal court judges to order Judge Russell Healey to open his courtroom to the press and the public.
The motion cited several instances in which media access to the trial of Michael Dunn has been hampered, including from juror voire dire, the final stage of jury selection and, most recently, from a hearing Tuesday morning about the admissibility of a defense witness.
The motion says local news outlets "have been banished from the courtroom during crucial proceedings" without any evidence or process to determine if the closure is needed. Even when the effective closure was not deliberate -- as when the audio feed to an overflow courtroom malfunctioned -- access has been difficult.
The motion notes that when a lawyer for local media outlets just attempted to inform the court of the audio failure, he "was physically barred from entering the courtroom" and the bailiff refused to even tell the judge he was there and wanted to see him.
"While petitioners hoped that the jury selection was an aberration, today's incident shows that the closure issues continue," the motion says.
It's not clear when the 1st DCA will take up the matter. You can watch gavel to gavel coverage of the Dunn trial on firstcoastnews.com. Trial will resume tomorrow morning at 10 a.m.