Let media, public see hearings on Oxford shooting suspect, prosecutor says

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Pontiac — Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald has advised a judge handling the case of the alleged Oxford High School shooter that she is opposed to the news media being restricted from hearing the case.

During a Wednesday status conference for Ethan Crumbley, Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Kwame Rowe indicated there were “potential privacy concerns” for the 15-year-old. Crumbley is charged with 24 felony counts in the Nov. 30 incident in which four teens were killed and seven others, including a teacher, were wounded inside the high school.

Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald, with Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard, during a press conference on the latest updates on the Oxford High School shooting in Pontiac, Michigan on December 2, 2021.

Rowe invited attorneys to file legal briefs prior to an upcoming Feb. 22 in-person hearing on possible placement of Crumbley and express thoughts on whether due to the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Protection Act, media coverage should be limited in any way.

“The parties have been in communication regarding the issue and believe the media and public access of the hearing should not be limited,” McDonald wrote in part in a Thursday court record to Rowe reviewed by The News.

Attorneys for Crumbley, who have argued he should be detained in Children's Village rather than in isolation but near adults in the Oakland County Jail, could not be immediately reached Friday for comment.

Ethan Crumbley attends a probable cause hearing virtually from the Oakland County Jail before Judge Nancy Carniak at Oakland County District Court in Rochester Hills on Friday, Dec. 7, 2022. January court filings in the case reveal an isolated existence for Crumbley and a tug-of-war about what the public should see before a trial, and what should remain off-limits.

“With hundreds of victims looking to the criminal justice system for accountability, openness and transparency is critical,” McDonald noted to Rowe in her memorandum.

McDonald supported her position with references to case law on how the “public and media have a both a constitutional and statutory right to attend criminal proceedings.”

“Given the importance of this right to openness, there are few circumstances under which public access to court proceedings can be limited,” she wrote.


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