Judge rules live streaming, jail call recordings okay for Halderson trial

MADISON, Wis. — A Dane County judge has ruled that media will be allowed to live stream Chandler Halderson’s trial proceedings, ruling against a motion from the defense asking that the court not allow news outlets to broadcast the trial online.

Halderson’s attorneys filed a motion in early November asking that audio and video live streaming of the trial not be allowed citing concerns that widespread coverage of the trial, specifically court proceedings while the jury is out of the courtroom, might discourage witness testimonies or taint jurors’ decision-making process.

“I’m not against information and freedom of access to information; it’s the simultaneous ease of access to the information that is so troublesome,” one of Halderson’s attorneys, Catherine Dorl, said during Tuesday’s hearing. “The easier it is to do something, the more likely it is for someone to do.”

Dorl also argued that allowing live streams would limit the court’s control over potentially sensitive information — a claim attorney Tanya Salman, who represents a Media Coalition that filed a motion against the defense’s request, said still exists with standard media coverage. News 3 Now is part of that Media Coalition. Salman argued that live streaming, if anything, would actually provide more accurate information to the public because the entirety of the trial would be available.

TIMELINE: Breaking down the details in the Halderson investigation

Salman added that Dorl’s concerns about witnesses and jury bias are based on speculation and an assumption that people inherently don’t follow rules.

“The public still has an interest in knowing the decisions that are being made, what’s being precluded, and we do have to trust the jury. And as you’ve said, you ask the questions when the jury comes in to make sure that they’re not watching the news and violating any of the orders at play.”

Judge John Hyland ultimately ruled against the defense’s motion with a caveat that media cut any live streams while the jury is out of the room in an effort to limit the jury’s or witnesses’ exposure to any procedural measures while also providing the public with access to the trial.

Halderson’s attorneys had also previously filed a separate motion to block recordings of Halderson’s calls from jail from being used in the trial, arguing that the government doesn’t have the authority to use the recordings. Assistant District Attorney William Brown argued against the motion saying phone calls from the jail aren’t privileged communications.

Judge Hyland said the fact that Halderson was notified that the calls were being recorded and he voluntarily made them means they’re admissible in court. Judge Hyland noted that the prosecution hasn’t yet identified any specific recordings it may or may not plan to use in the trial.

Halderson is scheduled to appear in court next on Dec. 13 at 1:30 p.m.

News 3 Now is part of the Media Coalition that filed a motion in opposition to the defense’s request to limit live streaming during Halderson’s trial.