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Courtroom Spy Caught on Video Camera

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on February 08, 2019 3:00 PM

It looked like someone was spying on the trial proceedings.

The courtroom's video camera was panning, titling, and focusing on the jury box. Then it moved to the counsel table and zoomed in.

It was not supposed to do that. It turned out somebody was spying on the court.

Sheriff Caught on Camera

Unbeknownst to the judge, Sheriff Ron Krebs was remotely controlling the camera from the sheriff's dispatch office. He said there were "security concerns" about the defendant in the criminal case.

Judge Donald Eaton was not happy when he found out. A temporary judge, he did not even know about it until a colleague informed him.

While the trial was in progress, another judge was in the court administrator's office and noticed the moving camera on a computer monitor. Judge Kathryn Loring let the trial judge know what was going on.

The trial told the attorneys in the case, sequestered the jury, and reviewed the video. Close-up screenshots showed the sheriff was looking at defense counsel's notes, a juror's notes, and exhibits.

"Inadvertent" Spying

At a hearing, Krebs said in a declaration that he "inadvertently manipulated the camera in the district courtroom in such a way that it zoomed in on one or more locations in the courtroom."

The sheriff said he didn't realize the camera could zoom, and he didn't read any of the documents it captured. The judge dismissed the case anyway, and set a hearing to decide what to do with the video.

It may be released to the public. If not, it still made the news, and the sheriff is not happy about that.

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