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WFAE's coverage of the case of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer Randall Kerrick charged with voluntary manslaughter in the death of Jonathan Ferrell. The court case ended in a mistrial.

Kerrick Trial Judge Approves Media Access To Jury Questionnaires

Davie Hinshaw
Charlotte Observer
Judge Robert Ervin, seen here during a pre-trial motion, will oversee the Kerrick trial.

Correction Appended

It’s the first day of the trial of former CMPD officer Randall Kerrick. He’s charged with voluntary manslaughter in the 2013 shooting death of Jonathan Ferrell. WFAE's Gwendolyn Glenn tells WFAE's Duncan McFadyen about the judge's decisions Monday morning about what kind of access the media will have to Kerrick’s trial. 

Transcript of 1 p.m. newscast:

Duncan: What did the judge decide today?

Gwendolyn: The first thing Superior Court Judge Robert Ervin ruled on is that cameras will be allowed in the courtroom during the trial. The media will also be permitted to make audio recordings, which the defense did not want.

One restriction on that is that no video or audio or pictures of jurors will be allowed. After those rulings the attorney for the Charlotte Observer, WBTV and Time-Warner (Cable) made a case for the media to have access to the questionnaire that potential jurors will be asked to complete. The defense also argued against this, but Judge Ervin says he will allow it. In the past only attorneys in trials have had access to questionnaires, so this is a first for Mecklenburg, according to the judge.

After those decisions,  the state and defense met and dropped some of the questions off the questionnaire that would reveal a potential juror’s personal information such as their name, telephone number, employer or  spouse's employer.

(End of conversation)

The family of Jonathan Ferrell and the family's attorney had a press conference outside of the courthouse. Attorney Christopher Chestnut says he hopes the trial shows that police departments need to change how officers engage the public.

“We just hope that law enforcement begins to reflect what the rest of the city is doing. That we stray away from paramilitary policing. That you introduce yourself and inquire before shooting. That perhaps you employ your Taser before shooting. That perhaps you use nonviolent means before shooting, and that, if you have to shoot, maybe not shoot fatally, but just disable,” Chestnut said.

Chestnut predicted that Kerrick’s defense team will put Ferrell’s character on trial and try to portray him as an “angry black male,” but he doesn’t expect that effort to be successful.

Correction: The original headline has changed, and a portion of the transcript has been struck through, because WFAE reported that Judge Robert Ervin ruled that video and audio recordings would be allowed during the trial. He has not made this ruling. Judge Ervin has only ruled that audio/video recordings and photography are allowed during pretrial motions. He has yet to rule whether video and audio recordings will be allowed once the jury is seated. WFAE regrets the error.