Sacto 9-1-1
January 24, 2013
Judge rules video shown by KCRA-TV was a public document, throws out lawsuit

By Darrell Smith

A Yolo County judge on Thursday rejected claims by a victims' advocacy group that a video showing the June 2008 shooting death of a Yolo County Sheriff's deputy played at trial and later aired by Sacramento's KCRA-TV violated the privacy of the slain deputy's family.

Attorney Nina Salarno Ashford of Crime Victims United represented the family of Deputy Sheriff Tony Diaz, killed by Marco Topete following a chase near Dunnigan.

Salarno Ashford argued for a protective order stopping viewing of the dashboard camera video that captured the shooting, citing privacy provisions in what is known as Marsy's Law that are designed to protect the privacy of crime victims and their families. Members of the Diaz family attended the hearing but did not speak with reporters.

She told Superior Court Judge Paul Richardson that the Yolo courts supplied the video to KCRA without the family's knowledge and that the TV station aired excerpts of video not seen in court violating the Diaz family's privacy. She cited privacy rights laid out in the states' Constitution.

"The family has a right to privacy. The family was not noticed. The Yolo County Sheriff's Department was not noticed," Salarno Ashford said.

But Judge Richardson cited a California court statute in denying the order with prejudice, saying court records, unless deemed confidential, are presumed to be public record.

Attorneys for KCRA parent Hearst-Argyle were not present at the brief hearing, but filed a response with the court.

Salarno Ashford said following the hearing she plans to pursue the matter. But First Amendment authority Terry Franck of California Aware agreed with the Thursday ruling.

"I think the ruling was correct," Franck said. "The documentation taken by a government agency is a matter of public record, especially in the matter of a court proceeding."

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