In a dramatic courtroom hearing on Thursday, a Cook County judge issued a hard-and-fast ban on cell phones, laptops and cameras, forcing Duggar and his legal team out of a trial they had already agreed to attend.
Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman cut-off the family’s microphones, which had been providing them a live audio feed of the proceedings.
“Yes, that’s correct,” said Duggar’s attorney Steven Kohn when asked if he agreed with the ban. “It’s so important that the defendant be able to speak to his attorneys.”
He then turned his attention to CNN reporter Natalie Allen, questioning whether she was “allowed to have a phone.” Allen was then barred from wearing a microphone while covering the trial.
Before the trial resumed, Coleman announced a trial time change.
“I must think I made a huge mistake,” a member of the Duggar family told CNN affiliate WLS-TV outside the courtroom.
“I will tell you that I put this case in jeopardy,” Judge Coleman warned. “This trial cannot proceed, and I apologize to the Duggar family and Jim Bob Duggar. I realize I did not think through the request.”
“This is a potential breach in a very solemn oath that I took,” the judge continued. “Something happened and something will happen, and I will go to prison for this.”
“Maybe this trial would have gone forward had you not,” Coleman added.
The hearing, which started with the family arriving in a van to avoid any cameras following their van ride to court, wrapped up after four hours when Coleman announced the conditions of Duggar’s testimony. The 28-year-old, who was sentenced to jail last November for possessing child pornography, is slated to testify on Wednesday. He has pleaded not guilty to a federal charge of “access to child pornography” — a misdemeanor, although the federal prosecutor hasn’t said whether the child pornography included pornography of minors. Duggar faces a maximum five-year prison sentence if convicted.
Allen, who has been assigned to cover the trial, said, “I think I was really excited to be in court today, and then Judge Coleman just flipped the situation completely.”
In a statement announcing the ban, Allen added, “Following a string of embarrassments for the family following Josh Duggar’s sex-exploitation scandal, we asked that reporters be banned from Duggar’s family’s home court today for the purpose of covering a criminal trial that the Duggars had agreed to attend.”
“After the jury was seated, the judge announced that cameras and audio recording devices are now not allowed in the courtroom, as well as communication among the media on Twitter. I immediately went to Twitter to signal to the other journalists in the courtroom that we are no longer to tweet.”
“I’m appalled that the Judge allowed Josh Duggar’s lawyers to berate me, a reporter not even involved in this matter, in front of reporters in the courtroom before I started. I got really upset.”
Read the full story at WLS-TV.
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