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Is using a minor's name in a murder trial allowed?

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by spikechiquet, Apr 23, 2010.

  1. spikechiquet

    spikechiquet Well-Known Member

    We have a murder trial going on in our neck of the woods. A guy shot his live-in girlfriend and the then-10-year old was in the house and testified on it.
    We withheld the name of the now 11-year old in our story. Our competition used her whole name and ID her biological father (who has nothing to do with the trial) as well.
    Is naming an 11-year old in a story out of line? I think so.
    Then again, I'm a sports guy just listening to the news desk talk about this.
  2. You can use whatever the hell you want:

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
  3. Buck

    Buck Well-Known Member

    No reason to not run it, and that type of self-censorship is a bad policy.
  4. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Is it allowed? Yes.

    Is it out of line? I don't think so. Normally you would withhold names of minors in sexual assault cases.

    Not when they are simply witnesses. I could see keeping the name out if the kid was in some danger or the killing was because one thought the other abused the kid, for example.
  5. Wenders

    Wenders Well-Known Member

    I say since the 11-year-old is a major player, since s/he witnessed it, I say there's no reason not to use their name.
  6. PCLoadLetter

    PCLoadLetter Well-Known Member

    We typically won't name an underage suspect in a crime unless he or she is sent to adult court. We won't name a victim of a sexual crime.

    But a witness? Have at it, unless there's some compelling specific reason not to.
  7. forever_town

    forever_town Well-Known Member

    I ran a name in a crime brief at my old shop.

    I got a call from the victim who said she had to move to another state under an assumed name as a result. I've also written crime briefs where the family of one of the defendants told the plaintiff he'd be "taken care of."

    Ever since then, I haven't printed names unless there was a compelling reason to do so.
  8. sgreenwell

    sgreenwell Well-Known Member

    Eh, but then you get into a weird sort of South Park, slippery slope argument. If you're willing to redact in that circumstance, then why print names of criminals at all? After all, they could snap and firebomb the paper, or get so stressed out that they re-attack that family member.

    I recognize that there isn't much need to run the victim's name in most crime beat items or stories, but you also wouldn't describe the background of a suspect in more simple beat items either, and other extemporaneous information. In a capital case, where anyone can wander into the court room and see the person testifying anyway, I don't think there is that much additional exposure from printing the name of a minor in the paper.
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