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An Ohio state court recently allowed the filming of jury deliberations by a major television network in a murder case, despite an ongoing debate on whether cameras disrupt the jury process. Lawyers and judges involved in the case gave permission for ABC News to film the entire trial of Mark Ducic for a documentary series, “In the Jury Room,” including attorney-client consultations, trials, pretrial preparations and jury deliberations. The show is set to premiere today. “The people will only trust the system more now that they’re being exposed to something they may have known nothing about,” said Bill Mason, prosecutor for Cuyahoga County, Ohio. “I have no reservations.” Defense attorney John Luskin, a solo practitioner in Cleveland, sounded a more cautious note. “I did not think that Judge [Nancy] McDonnell would go along with this, so I did not formulate an opinion on it one way or the other,” Luskin said. “When the judge went along with it, the prosecutors went along with it, and my colleagues went along with it, I figured this might be a good idea. … I haven’t changed my opinion yet, but did this jury play to the camera? I guess I won’t be able to formulate my entire opinion until I see the video.” Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Dan Kasaris, who handled the case, said that he didn’t think that the videotaping affected the jury and declined to comment further on the basis that it was Mason’s decision. LIFE TERM FOR MURDER The jury spared Ducic from the death penalty, recommending a life sentence without parole for allegedly killing his ex-girlfriend in 2001 and a friend more than a year later. Ducic allegedly gave lethal drug overdoses to Barbara Davis, in order to keep her quiet about crimes he had committed, and later to Donald Ehrke, who had witnessed Davis’ murder. Ohio v. Ducic, 440378 (Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, Ct. C.P. 2004). “I don’t assume the verdict had anything to do with it,” Mason said. “Justice wasn’t affected in any way.” Judge McDonnell, who presided over the trial, said that she felt confident in allowing the taping after viewing ABC’s original “State v.” series of Arizona court cases from 2002, which included jury deliberations. “The producers showed us the tapes that they had done before, and it was a very evenhanded approach,” she said. “It was very much like a documentary, not a reality TV show, and it was truly educational.” Ohio’s Chief Justice Thomas Moyer approved the taping, and the jurors were informed during the selection process. Moyer said that he hoped that it would educate the public about what goes on in a jury room, but that it would not become commonplace. “We should not routinely place cameras in jury rooms,” Moyer said. “They’re not there to assist the process. It was a rare opportunity to inform the public.” McDonnell and Luskin both indicated they are awaiting the film’s release to form a further opinion on whether or not the camera affected the jury’s decision. Neither will see any part of the footage until it airs this week. Luskin said that it will shed light on a part of the trial lawyers aren’t privy to. “Ironically, I received a message from juror 12 … indicating that she had caved to jury pressure and is seeking therapy and medical help,” he said. “She thought he was innocent. So it’ll be interesting to watch.” He said that he’s waiting to see whether or not the jury members influenced her in an effort to cinematize the process for the cameras. McDonnell shrugged off the idea that it could interfere with deliberations. “It’s impossible for me to say if it interfered, but the jurors all indicated that it wouldn’t,” she said. Video cameras were allowed in jury deliberations only a handful of times prior to the Ducic trial. “State v.” ran five trials taped in Maricopa County Superior Court in Arizona in 2002.

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