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Disciplinary panel: Hearing on complaint against Douglas County DA will not be livestreamed

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Media: No photos, no laptops

The panel of attorneys who will listen to evidence in a disciplinary case against Douglas County District Attorney Suzanne Valdez has ruled that the three-day hearing will not be available in any format other than in person.

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Further, no one, including media, will be allowed to take photos or use laptops to take notes during the hearings, which will be held in Topeka.

The hearings are regarding a complaint a judge made about Valdez’s conduct. Read the backstory in this article and more in the links below.

“The Hearing Panel has received several requests from members of the media regarding use of cameras and electronic devices in the courtroom during the Formal Hearing (hearing), as well as the broadcast or dissemination of the hearing to the public over the internet, through social media or other means of live streaming, or Zoom in the above-captioned matter,” Stacy L. Ortega, hearing panel presiding officer, wrote in an order.

“… The hearing proceedings will not be broadcast or disseminated to the public, including, but not limited to, broadcast/dissemination over the internet, through social media or other means of live streaming, or Zoom,” Ortega wrote.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Douglas County District Court hearings were livestreamed on YouTube to ensure public access. They are generally no longer livestreamed with the exception of weekly scheduling dockets, but judges may consider making proceedings available via livestream on a case-by-case basis. Most hearings in a high-profile and emotional shooting case have been livestreamed in recent months, for instance.

Members of the public and media who wish to use any electronic devices while in Kansas courtrooms need to request permission in advance. In Douglas County District Court, reporters’ requests to use laptops in order to improve speed, accuracy and completeness of notes are almost always granted. Recording audio is almost never allowed in Douglas County District Court, and it will not be allowed during Valdez’s hearings, either.

The hearings are set to begin at 8:30 a.m. Monday through Wednesday, Dec. 18, 19 and 20 in the Court of Appeals Courtroom on the second floor of the Kansas Judicial Center, 301 SW 10th Ave. in Topeka. It’s about a 30-minute drive from the downtown Douglas County Judicial and Law Enforcement Center.

The hearing was previously scheduled for two days in October, but Valdez’s attorney had to postpone because of a personal matter.

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Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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