Attorneys for Steven Ray James the Logan man accused of killing his infant son, then claiming the baby was abducted from his car - says the Utah Supreme Court should restrain journalists from reporting details of James' prior convictions when those are brought out during a Wednesday hearing.
Attorney Robert Gutke also wants the justices to prohibit the filming of the hearing, which was scheduled to argue a defense motion on an interlocutory appeal from 1st District Court in Logan.But attorney Patrick Shea, representing KUTV and the Society of Professional Journalists, opposed the motion. He said rules allowing cameras in the courtroom allow filming unless, in the opinion of the chief justice, allowing cameras would interfere with the proceedings.
Shea acknowledged that the Utah bar-press guidelines on coverage of court proceedings prohibit printing or broadcasting of information on prior convictions. The guidelines are voluntary, and Shea said he will speak with his clients about the matter. However, he said the decision about what should be used in news stories must be made by reporters, not by judges or lawyers.
James was charged with first-degree murder in the October 1986 slaying of his 3-month-old son, Steven Roy James. The infant's body was later found wrapped in blanket and weighed with rocks in a marsh near the Bear River. The father told police the infant was abducted from his pickup truck parked outside a Logan pharmacy.
Unable to raise $75,000 bail, James has been in the Cache County Jail since his arrest 20 months ago.
Gutke says state statutes allowing a murder charge to be raised to first- degree murder because of prior convictions are unconstitutional. Authorities have said, James, 36, formerly of Preston, Idaho, was convicted 15 years ago in California of kidnapping a woman at gunpoint.
Gutke also believes the media attention has prejudiced his client's right to a fair trial, so he wants the Supreme Court to order a change of venue. He acknowledged that the press coverage has died down, but he fears that coverage of the Supreme Court hearing will bring it back.