FAIRFIELD — The defense team for a Fairfield man accused of kidnapping, raping and killing a 13-year-old girl in February is seeking more time to respond to objections to their request to bar the media from court hearings and to seal court records in the case.
Lawyers for Anthony L. Jones asked for the delay of Wednesday’s scheduled hearing after objections to their request were filed with the court. Jones, 32, is scheduled to appear in front of Judge E. Bradley Nelson.
Daily Republic reporter Jess Sullivan filed a motion last week, contesting the defense team’s attempt to limit access to further court proceedings and to related court documents. Attorneys representing The Reporter in Vacaville and The Sacramento Bee filed a separate motion Monday.
Jones was arrested in February, several days after the naked body of Genelle Renee Conway-Allen was discovered in Allan Witt Park on the morning of Feb. 1. Jones has pleaded no guilty.
No dates for a probable cause hearing in his case have been scheduled.
The defense team filed a motion with the court Feb. 22, seeking to bar media coverage of further proceedings in the case and challenging the use of images of Jones by various news outlets. The defense team expanded on that argument in a motion filed July 29, which seeks to bar the media from courtroom proceedings, bar electronic coverage of the case and prevent news outlets from publishing images of Jones that are already in their possession.
A separate defense filing July 29 seeks to seal all court records in the case through the lengthy appeals process, should Jones be convicted at trial.
At stake, according to the defense team, is Jones’ constitutional right to a fair trial, as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment.
Arguments against the defense team’s move center on the public’s First Amendment right to have access to criminal proceedings and to court documents. Those arguments note that the defense team has not made its case that such drastic measures are required to guarantee that Jones has a fair trial.
That assessment was bolstered by Jim Ewert, general counsel for the California Newspaper Publishers Association, who said barring public access to court proceedings borders on the unprecedented.
“I can’t remember the last time that’s been done,” he said.
Ewert noted the high burden the defense team must overcome to prove their client cannot receive a fair trial with measures less-restrictive than those requested.
Those less-restrictive measures include extensive questioning of potential jurors, detailed instructions from the judge to jurors, and the possibility of trying the case outside of Solano County; and limiting access to only those court documents, or portions of court documents, that the court agrees should be sealed.
The filing by The Reporter and The Sacramento Bee also argues against the type of prior restraint sought by the defense team, with regard to previously published photos of Jones. The filing notes case after case where various courts, up to an including the U.S. Supreme Court, have ruled against such prior restraint.
Jess Sullivan contributed to this report. Reach Glen Faison at 427-6925 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GlenFaison.
This version significantly updates the original version to provide greater context.