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Courts and cameras

An interesting ruling came down this week from a federal judge that sided with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. It was the same judge Trump has ridiculed for the handling of the Trump University lawsuit.

U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel blocked a media request to release video testimony in the case from Trump. The court has released transcripts of the proceedings, but said letting the public have access to video could jeopardize the ability to conduct a fair trial.

"There is every reason to believe that release of the deposition videos would contribute to an on-going 'media frenzy' that would increase the difficulty of seating an impartial jury," the judge wrote.

He also said this: "There is a degree of legitimate public interest in the demeanor of the defendant in the deposition videos." But apparently not enough for this jurist.

Unfortunately, this judge is doing what the judicial system does far too often in this country. He's selling the public short in its ability to watch and process news media. And by doing that, he's violating the spirit of an open and transparent judicial branch.

A similar ruling came down from a different judge not long ago in a lawsuit related to Democratic president nominee Hillary Clinton's private email server controversy. Again, a judge denied access to video testimony of a Clinton aide for largely the same reasons.

A key concern in both cases raised by lawyers was the likelihood that snippets of the testimony could be used by political enemies, possibly in misleading ways.

They are absolutely right about that outcome. But we've all seen enough political ads and watched enough partisan talking-head cable shows to know that when we see it. We understand spin and salesmanship, and we also know when we ought to dig up more information to learn the rest of the story.

That's why fear of a "media frenzy" should not be a valid reason to shut out the public from this information (and I do believe a video provides information, such as facial expressions, pauses and other body language, that a transcript cannot).

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Here's reminder to all of you world traveler/amateur photographers there about our vacation photo contest. The deadline to submit photos through our nationwide competition portal is midnight Sunday, Aug. 7.

We launched this contest in partnership with the more than 40 other daily newspapers that are owned by Lee Enterprises. You can visit our travel website page at auburnpub.com/travel to submit your picture, or you can drop one off at our downtown Auburn office and fill out a contest form.

Readers across the nation will be able to vote on their favorite photos Aug. 8-11. The grand prize winner will receive $1,000.

A selection of the best photos as well as travel images from around the markets covered by Lee Enterprises publications will be featured in a special section slated for publication Aug. 24.

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Loyal Citizen readers may have noticed a familiar face on our opinion page Tuesday. Andrew Roblee has returned as a local columnist commenting on local, state and, on occasion, national current affairs. Andrew had authored a weekly column for us in 2012 and 2013, but gave that up for a run on the Auburn school board. He's been off the board for about a year now, and is ready to once again share about 500 words of his thoughts each week. I've always enjoyed Andrew's writing, which often includes some historical context that comes from his academic and professional background, because it's clearly articulated but far from bombastic or condescending. That's a quality to appreciate in a columnist these days, whether you agree with the opinion offered or not.

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Executive editor Jeremy Boyer’s column appears Thursdays in The Citizen and he can be reached at (315) 282-2231 or jeremy.boyer@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @CitizenBoyer

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