WEST UNION, Iowa (AP) - A judge on Wednesday reversed a ban that briefly prohibited a northeast Iowa news photographer from publishing photos taken at a courthouse.
District Judge Richard Stochl’s decision lifted a ban placed Aug. 11 on Jerry Blue, a photographer for the Fayette County Union in West Union.
Judge Joel Dalrymple had scolded Blue for taking photographs during a court hearing without advanced permission and for not wearing credentials. Dalrymple issued a noncompliance order and warned any publication of the photos could result in Blue and the West Union newspaper being held in contempt.
The hearing had involved a local mayor facing sexual abuse charges. Blue was able to snap a photo of him in a jail jumpsuit coming out of an elevator with two deputies escorting him, among other photos.
Anelia Dimitrova, an editor and spokeswoman for Community Media Group, wrote a letter protesting the ban. Community Media Group owns the Fayette County Union.
“Professionally, I’m thrilled that (Stochl) made that decision and allowed what was legitimately gathered photographs to be used,” she said. “I think the people have a right to know, especially when the defendant is a public figure.”
The permission sought by Dalrymple was required as part of revised rules on media coverage of Iowa court cases that went into effect in May. The changes modernize long-standing rules on cameras in the courtroom to address how and when journalists can use technologies such as laptops, cellphones and social media to report on proceedings. But they have caused some confusion and friction between court officials and news reporters.
Blue, who had not sought permission from Dalrymple, said he wasn’t familiar with the rule. He later chose not to run any of his photos in the newspaper’s next print edition.
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