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Chauvin trial: London-based Daily Mail denied media credentials after publishing 'stolen' body-cam video

The Daily Mail published body camera footage from two of the officers before the videos were made public, going against a court order.
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A British tabloid that published body camera footage from George Floyd's death before its public release has been denied credentials to cover the trial of former officer Derek Chauvin. 

In a court order published Wednesday, Hennepin County Cheif Judge Toddrick Barnette denied London-based Daily Mail access to the media center that's been set up across the street from the courthouse where Chauvin is being tried, as well as access to trial exhibits and "all media updates related to the trial."

Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the May 25, 2020, death of Floyd. Jury selection for Chauvin's trial wrapped up this week, and opening statements are set to begin on Monday.

Wednesday's court order comes after the Daily Mail published portions of body camera video from now-former officers Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng in August.

The videos were admitted as part of evidence in Lane's motion to dismiss the charges against him, and as a result became public documents. But because the case was already so highly publicized and the court has a duty to protect the defendants against excessive pretrial publicity, the court initially allowed the public and press to view the body camera video in person by appointment, but weren't allowed to record it or retransmit it. 

Barnette's order says:

"On Aug. 3, 2020, the Daily Mail published extensive portions of the body-worn camera footage on its website. Subsequent investigation by District Court Administration revealed that the footage had been stolen around the time it was available for public viewing. It has not been proven to the Court whether the Daily Mail did or did not play a role in the theft of the footage. It is clear, however, that the Daily Mail was the first media outlet to publish the stolen footage.

"The Court treats the theft of the footage and its subsequent publication with the utmost seriousness. The Court understands the important role that media plays in our society generally and the criminal justice system specifically. Nevertheless, in situations where a Court Order has been violated and a media outlet knowingly exploits the violation by publishing stolen records of court exhibits, the Court is required to pursue an equitable consequence."

Because of this, Barnette denied the Daily Mail all media credentials for Chauvin's trial, and "its staff and reporters will be denied access to all trial exhibits, to the media center and to all media updates related to the trial."

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That being said, no provision in the judge's order stops the publication from getting the trial exhibits from other media outlets, with Barnette writing, "The court assumes that the Daily Mail paid for the stolen video footage. The court is therefore confident that the Daily Mail can pay to obtain the trial exhibits associated with this case. This is not a hardship for the Daily Mail, it is merely an inconvenience."

"The Court does not make this decision lightly, but it has no other equitable and appropriate response to the Daily Mail’s purchase and publication of the stolen footage," Barnette said, noting the court made this determination months ago, but is "now memorializing the decision and its reasoning in this written order at the request of counsel for the Daily Mail to allow them to seek full legal review of the decision."

Bring Me The News has reached out to the Daily Mail for comment. The newspaper did not provide a comment when asked by the Associated Press.

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