Union County hearing may be first major test for laptops in court

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Apr 30, 2015 3:10 AM

(Lewisburg) -- A Union County case will be perhaps the first test of a state Supreme Court ruling allowing journalists to bring laptops into the courtroom.

The hearing for three teenagers accused of dropping a nearly five-pound rock from an overpass, seriously injuring an Ohio teacher, is set to start at 8:30 this morning.

In the courtroom, journalists will be allowed to type away on their laptops.

Union County Sheriff Ernie Ritter recommended removing some restrictions on electronic devices.

"We're gonna have the news media sign a waiver that they promise not to video record or audio tape any of the proceedings in the courtroom and only use their devices for keeping record," says Ritter.

Ritter says with laptops and tablets, journalists are able to take better notes, which leads to more accurate reporting.

"It'll be on a case by case basis, completely up to the judge. It's the judge's courtroom. He decides what happens in the courtroom, not the Sheriff. I follow his orders. I'm his right hand man. If he tells me there's no cell phones, there's not gonna be no cell phones," he adds.

However, he says the same restrictions on electronic devices will remain in place for the general public.

One of the four defendants has pleaded guilty to charges, while the other three are asking a judge to move the case to juvenile court.

The injured teacher Sharon Budd wants the teens tried as adults.

Because of the interest in the case, he says it's all hands on deck for his department, and neighboring communities have offered to help.

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