Judge: Vallow, Daybell hearings can be live-streamed, broadcast

Posted at 3:26 PM, Jul 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-28 12:42:42-04

ST. ANTHONY, Idaho — Judge Faren Eddins ruled Monday that video cameras will be allowed during the preliminary hearings for Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow. Madison County Prosecutor Rob Wood wrote in a memo that allowing broadcast/live streaming of the preliminary hearings will make it hard to pick an unbiased jury in Fremont County.

Earlier in July, Wood asked Judge Eddins to reconsider his order about courtroom conduct. The use of cameras in a courtroom is governed by ICAR 45, which partially states, "Audio/visual coverage is authorized subject to the discretion of the presiding judge. The presiding judge maintains the right to limit audio/visual coverage of any public hearing when the interests of the administration of justice requires. Authorization may be revoked at any time, without prior notice, when in the discretion of the court it appears that audio/visual coverage is interfering in any way with the proper administration of justice."

On Friday, Idaho News 6, along with other media outlets, filed an objection to that motion. Idaho Falls attorney Steve Wright was jointly hired by the media outlets to argue the objection to the motion.

"The Vallow and Daybell matters are exactly those which require openness and transparency," the objection states. "With all the justified coverage about the tragic disappearance and deaths 0fthe young victims, the public is entitled to know and be reassured by the serious and deliberate proceedings that will occur in this Court. Whether this preliminary hearing (and subsequent proceedings) are actually closed, or effectively closed due to current societal circumstances and enforcement of the remedy sought by the State, the Constitutional interests recognized by United States Supreme Court will be lost."

An Idaho Supreme Court ruling says public access to hearings is limited due to COVID-19. Hearings have been broadcasted or live-streamed over Zoom or YouTube as an alternative.

In a court document posted on July 28, the court provided detailed regulations for broadcast:

  1. Allowing only one media outlet to livestream the proceeding and allowing only one media outlet to photograph the proceeding;
  2. Prohibiting the audio and visual broadcast of conferences between attorneys and clients;
  3. Prohibiting the audio and visual broadcast of conferences between counsel and the presiding judge;
  4. Prohibiting the visual broadcast of any documents, exhibits, or notes in the attorneys' possession until they are admitted into evidence; and
  5. Prohibiting audio and video broadcast of off-the-record sessions or judicial deliberations

The court document said these restrictions balance the rights of the defendants (Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow, in this case) and the rights of the public. "The Court finds no other viable option other than allowing one news media outlet to broadcast the preliminary hearing and one news media outlet to photograph the preliminary hearing," stated the court document.

Vallow and Daybell face felony charges after the remains of Joshua "JJ" Vallow and Tylee Ryan were found on Daybell's property in June. The hearing for Chad Daybell is scheduled for August 10 and 11. Vallow's hearing is planned for August 3 and 4.