Albany Media Agree To Withhold Witness Names In Girl’s Death


In a rare tactic against witness intimidation, District Attorney David Soares in Albany have asked the news media not to publish the names of witnesses who testify in this week’s trial of a teenager charged with killing a 10-year-old girl, says the Albany Times Union. At least five news outlets, including the newspaper, appeared open to the request. “there are issues with witness intimidation,” said prosecutor David Rossi. “If we start seeing names in the (media) on day one, I think it’s going to make it difficult to have witnesses on the stand on day two and three.”

Soares has labeled the reluctance of witnesses to come forward and a “don’t snitch” culture as the top obstacle in prosecuting street crime. He never had asked the press to waive its First Amendment right before a trial and not publish names of witnesses who testify. Rex Smith, editor of the Times Union, said the newspaper would try to comply with the district attorney’s request for the duration of the trial, should it be convinced that children’s safety would be compromised. He said the newspaper has previously withheld names of rape victims and juvenile offenders at times. “Because we’re talking about children as witnesses, the standard that we would apply is raised,” Smith said. He said he was concerned about the request setting a precedent, adding, “This is not something I expect to see on a long term basis. Open courtrooms are a fundamental of American society.”


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