Mo. judge bars journalist from courthouse for 30 days

Monday, November 23, 2009

COLUMBIA, Mo. — A central Missouri judge has barred a newspaper photographer from a courtroom for 30 days after rejecting her written apology for photographing a jury.

Boone County Circuit Judge Gary Oxenhandler called the letter from Chris Dunn “a series of rationalizations.”

A photo taken by Dunn that was posted on the Columbia Missourian's Web site showed the two rows of a jury in a murder trial, although the jurors' faces were out of focus. Photographing jury members is prohibited in Missouri.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reported on Nov. 20 that the Missourian, a publication of the journalism school, took the photo off its Web site after the judge ordered its reporter out of the courtroom. After Tom Warhover, the Missourian’s executive editor, apologized, the reporter was allowed back into the courtroom.

The Tribune also reported that the Missourian’s director of photography, photo editor and Dunn wrote letters of apology to the court and that Oxenhandler had accepted all but Dunn’s.

Oxenhandler also said the court offered Dunn another chance “to write a meaningful apology” but she declined.

Dunn is a photojournalism student from Houston who is attending the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

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