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CHICAGO � When rhythm and blues singer R. Kelly, the three-time Grammy winner, goes on trial in Chicago next month on charges that he produced pornography with an underage teenager, Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan wants to be ready for the barrage of publicity that will follow the pop star. Gaughan, who will be presiding over the trial, traveled with other county officials last year to California to meet with Santa Barbara County Superior Court officials and study how the court’s Santa Maria unit handled the 2005 Michael Jackson criminal trial. Issuing orders Kelly’s trial promises to be nearly as much of a spectacle, especially given the court’s decision to show the video in which Kelly is having sex with the girl, who may be as young as 13. Gaughan, who has been on the bench since 1991, has already issued several orders detailing acceptable courthouse behavior for lawyers, media and fans, such as no interviews or cellphones in the courtroom, and has had organizational meetings with security, lawyers and reporters. “The trial judge won’t let it be a circus in the courtroom,” said Ronald Allen, a criminal law attorney at Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago. State and federal judges in high-profile cases are increasingly responsible not only for seeing that defendants get a fair trial amid the hype, but also for ensuring that the courthouse environment is kept orderly and safe. The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts developed internal brochures to help its 94 courts deal with such trials. Generally, the office advises courts to appoint a press contact, maximize courtroom space for viewing, work with local law enforcement on security and give reporters advance instruction on getting court documents and transcripts, said Dick Carelli, a spokesman for the office. Gaughan tapped Terry Sullivan, a Chicago attorney and local legal commentator to serve as a volunteer press liaison during the trial. The trial of Kelly, who won his Grammys in 1997 for the song “I Believe I Can Fly,” and currently has the hit song “Same Girl,” will be the judge’s highest-profile trial, Sullivan said. Gaughan declined to comment. The most important consideration for a court is that media attention not influence a jury’s deliberations. With judges sequestering juries less than in the past to avoid outside information, courts must be sure that jurors are not swayed by outside information, Allen said. “Media attention on a trial can pose serious risks to the defendant’s ability to get a fair trial,” said Michael Schachter, a criminal defense attorney now at Willkie Farr & Gallagher in New York who represented a co-defendant of media mogul Conrad Black in his high-profile federal trial in Chicago and was a federal prosecutor in the Martha Stewart case. Kelly’s attorney, Edward Genson, who defended Black in his trial, declined to comment on the case. Assistant State’s Attorney Shauna Boliker didn’t return calls seeking comment. Court officials are planning to have a lottery to determine which members of the public get into the courtroom and are considering a media committee to determine which reporters get a seat, Sullivan said. So far, he has had inquiries from 150 outlets, including MTV and Chinese media. Sullivan is advocating that the court set up an overflow room where people shut out of the courtroom can listen to a live audio and/or video feed from the trial.

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