Judge Bars Media From Jury Selection In Dishon Case

(SHEPHERDSVILLE, Ky., January 10th, 2002, 11 a.m.) -- A Bullitt County judge has upheld his ruling to keep reporters out of the courtroom during jury selection in the trial of a man accused of murdering a teenager in 1999.

Circuit Judge Thomas Waller ruled Thursday that reporters can request transcripts of the selection process at a later date, after a jury is seated. He said media attention may bias potential jurors.

The Courier-Journal had challenged Waller's ruling Wednesday as jury selection began and is appealing the decision to the Kentucky Court of Appeals.

"News is news when it happens," said Jon Fleischaker, an attorney for the newspaper. "To delay that is to deny coverage. We are not in the business of covering history."

Potential jurors are being questioned about their feelings on the death penalty and any exposure to pretrial publicity in the murder case of David "Bucky" Brooks, who is charged in the 1999 beating and strangling of 17-year-old Jessica Dishon.

After a two-hour hearing Thursday, Waller ordered that jury selection resume. Opening statements aren't expected to begin until late next week.

Jessica, a senior at Bullitt Central High School, disappeared from her home on Sept. 10, 1999. Her body was found in a wooded area about seven miles away 17 days later.

Commonwealth's Attorney Mike Mann and attorneys for Brooks asked that jury selection be closed.

Fleischaker argued Thursday that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1984 that the jury-selection process cannot be completely closed.

He said it is the public's right to see what takes place inside the courtroom and have "access to the administration of justice."

But Vince Yustas, Brooks' lead attorney, said opening the proceedings to the media and the public would have a "chilling effect on witnesses" and how openly they may discuss their feelings about the death penalty.

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(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)