News Column

Judge Upholds Right to Air Crime Video

Jan 24 2013 10:00PM

Darrell Smith

A Yolo County judge on Thursday rejected claims by a victims advocacy group that a video showing the June 2008 shooting death of a Yolo County sheriff's deputy played at trial and later aired by Sacramento's KCRA-TV violated the privacy of the slain deputy's family.

Attorney Nina Salarno Ashford of Crime Victims United represented the family of sheriff's Deputy Tony Diaz, killed by Marco Topete following a chase near Dunnigan.

Salarno Ashford argued for a protective order stopping the viewing of the dashboard camera video that captured the shooting, citing privacy provisions in what is known as Marsy's Law that are designed to protect the privacy of crime victims and their families. Members of the Diaz family attended the hearing but did not speak with reporters.

She told Superior Court Judge Paul Richardson that the Yolo courts supplied the video to KCRA without the family's knowledge and that the TV station aired excerpts of video not seen in court, violating the Diaz family's privacy. She cited privacy rights laid out in the state constitution.

"The family has a right to privacy. The family was not noticed. The Yolo County Sheriff's Department was not noticed," Salarno Ashford said.

But Richardson cited a California court statute in denying the order with prejudice, saying court records, unless deemed confidential, are presumed to be public record.

Attorneys for KCRA parent Hearst-Argyle were not present at the brief hearing but filed a response with the court.

Salarno Ashford said following the hearing that she plans to pursue the matter. But First Amendment authority Terry Francke of Californians Aware agreed with Thursday's decision.

"I think the ruling was correct," Francke said. "The documentation taken by a government agency is a matter of public record, especially in the matter of a court proceeding."

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Source: (c) 2013 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)


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