Wilber, Neb. (KOLN) - Saline County District Judge Vicky Johnson issued an order Wednesday evening, banning media from live tweeting, blogging or providing any other instantaneous information sharing in the Aubrey Trail trial from the courthouse.
WILBUR, NEB. - 06/18/2019 - Saline County District Court Judge Vicky Johnson talks to the jury on Tuesday, June 18, 2019, prior to the opening statements of the Aubrey Trail Trial at Saline County District Court. FRANCIS GARDLER, Journal Star
People in attendance, including media, will not be allowed to bring phones into the courtroom. News cameras will still be allowed but only for recording purposes. 1011 NOW will still be able to show you video of select witness testimony.
In the order, Judge Johnson said various blog, twitter and other social media comments about the case have the court concerned about security, maintaining the juror's impartiality and the rights of both parties to fail trial. She also said in the order that "various blog, twitter and other social media comments about this case which have been provided to the Court have referred to court personnel in derogatory terms."
On our 10/11 live blog a commenter who identified herself as the mother of a juror made a comment about jury sequestration. Another commenter stated that he had driven by the Saline County Courthouse and didn't see the wheelchair transport van and that the defendant is apparently not there. He later commented that NE Correction officials were transporting the defendant.
According to the order, a newspaper reporter tweeted that Trail was taken from D & E in Lincoln on a 911 emergency. Then a member of the press contacted the defense counsel in a hospital parking lot where Trail was being treated in the emergency room. The order said broadcast of this information constituted a security threat to the defendant, counsel and law enforcement.
"The Court further finds that live tweeting has created an atmosphere which has fomented disrespect to the court system," Judge Johnson said in the court order.
The first degree murder trial of Aubrey Trail is expected to resume Thursday at 9 a.m., following a long day of delays Wednesday.
Witness testimony was supposed to begin Wednesday at 9 a.m. but Trail did not appear in court for unknown reasons.
The judge said the courthouse was experiencing air conditioning and elevator problems throughout the morning but the elevators were later fixed. The judge said the reason for the delay didn't have anything to do with the day's proceedings. The judge excused the jury and asked them to return at 1 p.m.
Less than thirty minutes after the trial was expected to resume, the judge sent the jury into recess again and said she was considering sequestering the jury and/or pulling the plug on expanded media coverage.
The judge said the court took two phone calls concerning a juror's behavior.
"I told you the last couple of days that you are not to discuss the case with anyone," said Judge Vicky Johnson. "Court staff have received two phone calls that a juror has been blogging information about the case."
The judge has not sequestered the jury in the trial.
Defense Attorney Joseph Murray said he's not worried about a tainted jury.
Just before 2 p.m. the judge adjourned court for the day and said it will resume Thursday at 9 a.m.