The judge in the Oklahoma City bombing case isn't likely to allow closed-circuit TV coverage of the trial just because Congress said so.
U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch will research a new television coverage law, enacted just last month, and hear arguments from attorneys before deciding whether to allow cameras at the trial of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols.Matsch has a reputation for meticulous research.
"He's not going to rule prematurely," said William Pizzi, a University of Colorado law professor. "He wants to make sure the trial is run efficiently and fairly and I'm sure in a controlled way."
A clause in an anti-terrorism bill signed late last month by President Clinton requires closed-circuit television coverage of federal trials moved more than 350 miles so victims and survivors can follow the proceedings.
If Matsch approves the coverage, the closed-circuit feed would be transmitted only to an Oklahoma City courtroom or other approved venue. A federal magistrate would make sure it is viewed only by victims, survivors or their relatives.
The matter became an issue after Matsch ruled in February that an impartial jury could not be seated in Oklahoma and moved the trial to Denver.
The 550-mile move created a financial and emotional hardship on the victims' relatives, survivors and their relatives - an estimated 2,200 people. To attend the trial, they would have to leave their jobs and homes for a lengthy, costly stay in Denver.
Prosecutors have argued the closed-circuit coverage would not jeopardize the defendants' rights.