On January 14, 2022, the Media Coalition of newspapers and other media filed a letter with the court requesting U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson to invalidate his limitations on public access to the courtroom where on January 20, the court will start the criminal trial of three former Minneapolis policemen (Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao) over the killing of George Floyd in May 2020.
Those limitations are the following:
- Fewer than 100 members of the public will be permitted in the courtroom;
- There will be closed-circuit feed from the courtroom to another room in the courthouse, accommodating only 40 members of the public and a similar room for 40 members of the media. The closed-circuit feed from the courtroom will be streamed from four monitors that will not pan or zoom and will not focus on the jury or tables for defense counsel.
- During jury selection only two members of the media will be allowed in the courtroom, but not to anyone from the public or the families of the defendants or Mr. Floyd.
- During the trial the courtroom will be limited to four members of the media and a sketch artist plus some family members, but not the general public.
These limitations on public access, argued the Media Coalition, amounted to a closed courtroom in violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. “We do not need to explain to this Court the gravity of the trial, the impact Mr. Floyd’s death had on the Twin Cities and the world, or the public’s ongoing and intense concern for how the criminal justice system deals with those accused of killing him.” Moreover, the Coalition asserted that the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized, “To work effectively, it is important that society’s criminal process ‘satisfy the appearance of justice,’ and the appearance of justice can best be provided by allowing people to observe it.”
We await any response from the prosecution and the court’s ruling on the request.
 Olson, Media asks judge to reconsider access to ex officers’ federal trial in George Floyd killing, StarTribune (Jan. 18, 2022). See also Pre-Trial Hearing in Federal Criminal Case Over Killing of George Floyd, dwkcommentaries.com, dwkcommentaries.com (Jan. 14, 2022); “Federal Criminal Cases Against Ex-Minneapolis Policemen Over Killing of George Floyd” section of List of Posts to dwkcommentaries—Topical: George Floyd Killing.