Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Accused bank robber's lawyer wants to stop paper from printing defendant's photo

Bank robbery suspect Christopher Jay Wootton
leaves court in a wheelchair on Dec. 19. This is
one of the photos his lawyer does't want published.
The lawyer for an alleged serial bank robber has asked a judge to stop the Marin Independent Journal from publishing photographs of the defendant taken outside the courtroom.

Public defender Michael Coffino says publishing the photos, which have already been printed in the IJ and distributed by the AP, would jeopardize his client's ability to get an unbiased jury. And since the defendant, Christopher Jay Wootton, is now in a wheelchair after he was shot by cops, Coffino says the photographs represent discrimination against Wootton's disability.

On Jan. 29, Coffino filed a motion to enjoin the IJ and other media from publishing photos of Coffino being transported to and from court. A hearing is set for Feb. 21 before Marin County Superior Court Judge James Chou.

Attorney Duffy Carolan, a First Amendment expert representing the IJ, said both the federal and state constitutions provide strong protections against prior restraint of the media by the government, and that Wootton's case does not come close to overcoming them. Here's the IJ's report on the controversy. (Photo credit: Frankie Frost, Marin IJ)

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