Last year, Douglas County D.A. David McDade created quite a stir by alledgedly handing out multiple copies of the Genarlow Wilson sex tape. After hints of prosecution from the Feds, McDade finally stopped his willy-nilly distribution. But the genie was out of the bottle.
That one thoughtless act led to rumored viewing parties at the Capitol and ultimately to the demise of legislation which would have freed Wilson. Fortunately, the Supreme Court, presumably without the same access to the horrible video talisman, later set aside Wilson's conviction.
Now the final act of the Wilson saga begins.
Rep. Rich Golick (R-Smyrna) and David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) have submitted a bill which would prevent any release of evidence of sexual nature used in a criminal case. They should be applauded for this effort, but as Political Insider points out there one potentially big problem with the law.
Particularly worrisome to the Georgia Press Association is a provision that would permit judges to clear the courtroom when such evidence is presented during trial.
The good intentions of Rep. Golick and Rep. Ralston miss the point that the sin committed in the Wilson case was not the viewing of the material but the distribution of the material. It can certainly be argued the press and even the public to a degree have a legitimate interest in viewing all evidence which might lead to a criminal conviction. This does not means either should be able to possess that evidence.
Fortunately, the fixing is pretty easy.
First, throw out the ability of the judge to scurry the press out during a trial. Second, add that access to evidence of a sexual nature should be limited to those with a legitimate interest, i.e. the press, and that it can only be examined in the confines of a custodial facility such as a D.A.s office. Third, require the request for information be in writing and recorded. This final point will prevent those who only seek this type of material for prurient interest.
There's a lot of good here. Just needs to be shined up a bit.