Controversy is not an anomaly when one examines the accusations made against comedian and actor Bill Cosby. And as one would expect the proceedings created a newsworthy event and the media has responded, camping out on the streets, sidewalks and the steps of the Montgomery County Courthouse.
In what appears to be an effort to wrangle in the media, Judge Steven T. O’Neill has signed his name to a court order that greatly restricts the rights of those there to cover the proceedings, from limiting access to the courtroom, courthouse and surprisingly the Public areas around the courthouse.
One order was put into effect on June 6, 2017, titled “ ADDENDUM TO DECORUM ORDER GOVERNING JURY TRIAL”, The body of the order reads;
In the exercise of its power to provide for the orderly disposition of this case, it is, by the Court sua sponte, this 6th day of June 2017, ORDERED as follows:
Any attempt by Reporters and members of the general public to contact or photographer any Juror at any time or any place during the course of the trial is prohibited. Anyone who violates this provision may be punished as a criminal contempt of court.
Note the Latin term “sua sponte” means “on it’s own” meaning no party asked for this, Judge Steven T. O’Neill simply decided to disregard the Constitution of the United States of America and create and sign his name to this order, which has a penalty of criminal contempt
This was brought to our attention when a contributor whose YouTube channel is: Southeastern Pa. Community Watch documented his encounter with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s employees, who made it clear that they were simply following orders and that if he continued he would be arrested and taken before the Judge.
This type of Judicial overreach is very common throughout the United States, some view it as the Judges ensuring a fair trial while others see it is as suppression of free speech and a free press.
According to the publication titled “A Bench Book for Pennsylvania Judges” there is no such authority to restrict these acts, the rules, and Judge O’Neill’s authority apply to within the walls of the Courtroom and photographing witnesses, not Jurors.