The court will not record the livestream. This also means the day’s proceedings will not be rebroadcast by the court later in the day. Members of the media will have access to the courtroom and may have coverage of the trial.
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There is no such thing as a “normal” trial. Each trial is unique in the amount of evidence presented, and the number of witnesses and experts called to testify. This trial is expected to take between 8-12 weeks. The duration of a trial is affected by many factors and could shorten or lengthen due to events that transpire during the trial.
Court Reporter transcripts, while public record, are not made part of the court file. They are the property of the court reporter and must be requested directly from the court reporter for a fee. The court reporters set the timeline on when requests from members of the public will be filled. Pierce County Superior Court does not utilize digital court recording equipment in our trial courtrooms. There have been digital court recordings of one proceeding in this high-profile trial. The original arraignment was recorded in Courtroom 270 which is our high-volume criminal arraignment courtroom and does not use a court reporter. A recording of that proceeding can be requested through the Pierce County Superior Court Clerk’s Office for a fee.
Court staff or judicial officers cannot provide legal advice and cannot discuss judicial decisions outside of the court hearing. If there are concerns about the decisions of a judicial officer those are brought up by the parties in the appeal process.
While the trial is scheduled to run Monday-Thursday, 9-12/1:30-4, there is no guarantee that court will be in session when you are able to watch. There are many reasons why the trial might not occur when you are able to view. There are times due to witness/expert availability or a question the parties are trying to answer for the judge that cause the court to be shut down for full or partial day. There will likely be very little advanced notice that court is not proceeding. Being in receipt of a seat in the gallery does not guarantee court will be in session.
Voir Dire is the process of jury selection and is expected to take the first two weeks of the trial. Pierce County Superior Court does not livestream jury selection. There will be limited gallery seating for the public and members of the media during the jury selection process. There will also be space in the courtroom for families of the defense and the state. The seating process will be the same as for when the trial begins. Please check back on the trial website for further instructions.
The court does not broadcast the evidence presented to the jury over the livestream. The livestream feed does show the large monitor in the courtroom where evidence will be displayed for the jury and the audio will be broadcast as part of the livestream.
The court is required to have an open courtroom. Our courtrooms are open to the public and livestreaming is only a way to increase transparency for the public. If the livestream feed goes down, the court will work as quickly as possible to restore the livestream but stopping court proceedings is up to the judge presiding over the case. The livestream is subject to available bandwidth and resources.
Local media outlets are also livestreaming from the courtroom while court is in session.
The court has no way of knowing when deliberations will begin. As the end of the trial draws nearer, the court may have a better understanding of when deliberations may begin. The court does not know how long a jury may take to deliberate on a verdict.
Courtroom 323 has a capacity for 36 members of the public. They will be seated during the trial in the last five rows of the right side of the courtroom.
Pierce County Superior Court conducts around 600 trials (jury and non-jury) per year. This means that all judicial departments and commissioner courtrooms will be active during the trial. Superior Court is not the only jurisdiction in the County City Building. District Court and Tacoma Municipal Court will also be conducting normal operations in the building.
The State (prosecutor) sits closest to the jury box. In Courtroom 323 the “State” side is on the left side of the courtroom. You may notice this extends to the gallery as well. Additional attorneys and staff for the Attorney General’s Office and family members of Manny Ellis are also seated on the left side of the courtroom. The defense side (right side) includes additional attorneys and staff for the defense along with defendant’s family members. Because of the physical layout of this courtroom, including the large pillar on the left side, the available additional seating is on the right side of the courtroom. As a result, members of the public are seated only on the right side of the courtroom.
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