Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Shield Law Protects Reality TV Show Footage

Above the Law, Urban Justice, and Out for Justice are part of the filmography of stout, stone-faced martial arts star Steven Seagal, but also apropos commentary concerning a First Amendment versus Sixth Amendment battle involving a criminal defendant and the reality tv show Steven Seagal Lawman.

Louisiana Judge Patrick McCabe of the 24th Judicial District has ruled that New York-based ITV Studios, producer of the reality show featuring Seagal, a reserve sheriff's deputy, does not have to turn over raw footage of an arrest of a 30-year-old defendant charged with cocaine possession to the defendant's attorney.  Attorney Joe Marino III, who represents the accused, Jimmy Sarrio, wanted the video involving his client's arrest so that he could gauge whether deputies had probable cause to stop and question Sarrio. Counsel for the reality tv show noted that the program involved crime and drugs--"the very essence of news"--and should be protected under Louisiana's Shield Law (Rev. Stat. Sec. 45:1451-1459), as would be documentary footage shot by any journalist.

It's comforting that Judge McCabe found Steven Seagal Lawman satisfied the legal definition of news, because it's unfathomable that a vehicle featuring corpulent chopsocky cop Steven Seagal could be considered entertainment.


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