Jury selection began Monday, February 6th in the trial of George Huguely, the University of Virginia lacrosse player who’s accused of killing his girlfriend, Yeardley Love.
Charlottesville’s communications director, Ric Barrick, knew there would be big interest in this case when a preliminary hearing brought nine satellite trucks to town. He says 17 are now expected along with 150-175 reporters:
“Part of that crowd will include NBC, CBS and ABC, the Morning Show, 20/20, Dateline, several court TV shows as well as ESPN,” said Barrick, and aknoweldges there isn’t enough room for all those reporters, family and friends of the defendant and his alleged victim:
“It’s a relatively small courtroom, and the defense and the prosecution have asked for at least three rows, which leaves us with about 20-30 media and about 50 public seats.”
The city has set-up a satellite feed to a nearby building, where reporters and members of the public can watch the case on TV. Aside from that feed, no cameras will be allowed in the courtroom, and reporters will not be allowed to take cell phones or audio recorders inside. Planners will also try to shield the defendant from view as he enters the courtroom on day one.
Outside, Barrick says, traffic is likely to be a problem with reporters, lawyers, police, sheriff’s deputies, and the public converging on courthouse square.
All of this is contained in a 15-page media plan issued by the city after consulting with Chesapeake, where the DC sniper Lee Malvo was tried in 2003. When this trial ends, Barrick says, Charlottesville will be happy to share its media plan with other cities facing high profile trials.