Judge Oishi begins the arraignment: The defense has filed a motion to prohibit media from filming the defendant.
Defense counsel rises and makes his case for why the cameras should not alight upon his client. This is in the form of a type of opening statement. Explains his client did not do the acts intentionally. That he supported BLM. And otherwise was a good guy who just happened to be involved in an unfortunate incident.
Judge O: Does the prosecution take a position on the request to partially close the proceedings in this limited fashion.
Judge O: Does anyone else wish to speak.
K3: Yes your honor I do. [raise hand and stand]
Judge: Ms. Koehler is that you… [trying to make out my face from behind the mask].
K3: Yes your honor it is.
Come forward. Mask in place. To the microphone back where the audience is sitting.
K3: This occurred on a public highway. It resulted in public footage of the two victims being thrown in the air like rag dolls. A vision that we will never be able to take out of our minds. This [gesturing] is in a public forum…
Judge O interrupts: Ms. Koehler this is not opening statement in a civil case.
Am thinking – well, what did the defense attorney just do – but hold my mouth shut. Because I do not represent a party here. Am being allowed to speak as a matter of privilege on behalf of the victims who have hired me to help make sure that their interests are heard. Accept the warning. Complete the objection.
Sara Green of The Seattle Times then speaks on behalf of all the press. Reads the applicable discretionary court rule. Smile at her: good job. As she walks back. She smiles: I’ve been through this rodeo before.
Judge Oishi graciously and firmly explains how he must weigh various factors in deciding whether to close a proceeding to the public – even partially. Motion by the defense denied. Defense lawyer then asks that his client at least not be filmed in restraints walking into the courthouse. Loses that motion. Arraignment proceeds.
Later that evening get an awful email from the defense lawyer. “I am disappointed with your ill-intended advocacy.” Charges that advocating for the filming of his client in jail garb in court, feeds the interests of white supremacists. Blech.
Crime victim clients rely on me to help them during the criminal process. Sometimes they need to face the accused defendant. To see them in court. Getting arraigned. Here the surviving parents even in the midst of terrible grief – are trying to understand. Why did it happen. Why did that person do this. Will they be able to avoid accountability. Will the system work..
Victims have little input into criminal prosecutions. The State gets to make the decisions. But sometimes there are small opportunities for victims to have a voice. And in this case – I used my voice to state their wishes that a defendant not be able to hide from the public while facing justice.
Photo: heading to E942.