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Judge refuses cameras in trial of former SLA fugitive

Cites concern for Patty Hearst Shaw

January 11, 2000
Web posted at: 3:09 a.m. EST (0809 GMT)

In this story:

Hearst a reluctant witness

Olson: Camera influences attorneys, jurors


LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- The judge in the case of Sara Jane Olson, a long-time fugitive charged with crimes linked to the militant leftist group SLA, has ruled against cameras in the courtroom during her trial, which begins February 7.

Judge James Ideman also issued gag orders for attorneys, the defendant and all witnesses involved in the case.

 Court TV Online:
Prosecutors can present SLA history in Olson trial, judge rules

Crime and punishment

The judge cited concern for the main witness, Patty Hearst Shaw, for not allowing cameras in the courtroom. Ideman said having her testify before cameras "would be like raping her all over again with everyone watching."

Hearst Shaw -- then known by her maiden name Patty Hearst -- was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army in the 1970s, converted to their cause and later convicted of armed bank robbery.

Hearst a reluctant witness

 Patty Hearst
Patty Hearst Shaw  

She has claimed that she was raped and tortured during her captivity. Hearst Shaw has been subpoenaed by the prosecution in the Olson case and has said she does not want to testify.

Olson, also known as Kathleen Soliah, is charged with the attempted bombing of two police cars in 1975, allegedly to avenge the deaths of SLA members killed in a fiery police shootout. Neither of the bombs went off.

Olson remained a fugitive for nearly 25 years, living much of that time in Minnesota, where she was apprehended in 1999.

Olson: Camera influences attorneys, jurors

In his ruling on Monday, Judge Ideman also noted that he and many of his colleagues feel that a camera in the courtroom changes the way attorneys act and how jurors perceive a trial.

In addition, the judge ruled to admit the philosophy and history of the SLA and the crimes it committed, whether Olson was allegedly involved or not. He said the prosecution has to use that evidence to corroborate the testimony of Hearst Shaw.

The defense argued that admitting such a broad scope of evidence would unduly prejudice their client.

In further rulings, Judge Ideman said he would not admit the 1975 grand jury testimony of a witness who has since died, and refused to order a psychiatric exam of a former police officer who recently said he can identify Olson as the person who glared at him the night a pipe bomb was planted under his parked squad car.

Olson, who has pleaded not guilty, remains free on $1 million bail

Ex-70s radical Soliah freed on $1 million bail
July 20, 1999
Prosecutors want high bail for fugitive '70s radical
July 14, 1999
Former SLA member waives extradition to face California charges
July 8, 1999
California seeks return of alleged SLA member
July 1, 1999
'70s fugitive in court today
June 17, 1999
FBI has 'hot leads' on last SLA fugitive
June 17, 1999
Police nab fugitive from group that kidnapped Patty Hearst
June 16, 1999

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