Judge Faren Eddins has denied prosecutors' request to ban news cameras from the courtroom during the trials of Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow. Reporters and a limited number of cameras were allowed into the proceedings based on an order issued on July 8, and Eddins upheld the order over the prosecutors' complaints, according to a report by KTVB 7.
"I'm denying the state's motion to reconsider my order governing courtroom conduct, things will proceed as outlined in my July 8, 2020, order governing courtroom conduct and the subsequent order," Eddins said in court on Monday afternoon. The hearing was called specifically to discuss prosecutors' complaints about the cameras. It was held in a Fremont County courtroom, though attendees were allowed to participate via video chat. Daybell took this option, while Vallow waived her right to appear in court. Her attorney, Mark Means, was present in her place.
The prosecutor for Madison County, Rob Woods, argued that the public's right to know what was happening in Daybell and Vallow's case would not be impeded by removing cameras from the courtroom. He said that this measure would help ensure the jury was unbiased.
"The state is mindful of the effects of COVID-19 and the difficulties it raises for all parties involved. We understand the difficulties it raises for the media, in terms of being personally present. However, the public's right to know what happens in these hearings, which is important, and the state absolutely believes in that right, but it is satisfied by the public and the media has access to court transcripts and audio of the preliminary hearing," Woods said.
Attorney Steven Wright attended the hearing on behalf of several news outlets interested in covering the case. He argued that allowing cameras into the courtroom was the best way to avoid the spread of misinformation.
"The concern is bias arising from inaccurate information, and there is no better way to make sure that accurate information is provided than through a video feed... The indication as well that information can be obtained after the fact through audio and transcripts, that that accomplishes nothing other than interfering with the media's ability to try to provide appropriate coverage in this case coverage that will occur," Wright said.
Vallow's children, 7-year-old J.J. and 16-year-old Tylee, were found dead and buried on Daybell's sprawling Idaho property, while she and Daybell were off getting married in Hawaii. The two face multiple charges relating to the alleged neglect and murder of the children.