Magistrate Judge Faren Eddins has ruled that the preliminary hearings of Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell will be broadcast live by media.
“As Thomas Jefferson said ‘Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost,’” Eddins said.
The ruling was made at a hearing on Monday afternoon conducted through Zoom. It was in response to Prosecutor Rob Wood filing a motion asking Eddins to disallow video coverage of Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow’s preliminary hearings, citing concerns about tainting the potential jury pool.
Wood acknowledged the right of a defendant to a public hearing and the right of the public to know what takes place in a criminal trial. However, he feared the video coverage would infringe upon the defendants right to a fair trial. Wood said video coverage would “make it more difficult to pick an un-biased jury in Fremont County. Picking jury in this case will be difficult and time consuming due to the already existing media coverage.”
Multiple local and national media outlets, including the Post Register, filed a joint objection to Wood’s motion. The media hired Idaho Falls attorney Steve Wright to represent them at the hearing.
At Monday’s hearing, both John Prior, attorney to Chad Daybell, and Mark Means, attorney to Lori Vallow, also objected to Wood’s motion. Both felt there had already been such extensive media coverage that allowing video cameras in the courtroom would make no difference at this point in time.
“I think you can sum it up with the statement of ‘the cat’s out of the bag,’” Means said.
Daybell’s preliminary hearing is set for Aug. 3 and 4. Vallow’s preliminary hearing is set for Aug. 10 and 11.
Daybell and Vallow both face two felony counts of concealment of evidence involving the cover up of the deaths of Vallow’s two minor children, J.J. Vallow and Tylee Ryan. Vallow also has misdemeanor charges involving resisting or obstructing an officer, soliciting another to commit a crime and contempt of court.