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Attorney General Hunter Commends Judge Balkman’s Decision to Allow Cameras in the Courtroom for State Opioid Trial

Attorney General Hunter Commends Judge Balkman’s Decision to Allow Cameras in the Courtroom for State Opioid Trial

OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Mike Hunter today commended the decision by Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman to allow journalists to use cameras in the courtroom during the state’s trial against the nation’s leading manufacturers of opioids, scheduled for May 2019.

The announcement comes after attorneys representing The Oklahoman Publishing Company sent a letter to Judge Balkman requesting the use of cameras during the trial.

In May, Attorney General Hunter sent the state’s response, agreeing that cameras should be allowed, citing a 1981 attorney general opinion that says cameras and tape recorders improve accuracy in reporting on events and therefore may not be categorically barred from meetings.

“Judge Balkman’s decision will bring transparency, accountability and clarity to this trial and I applaud his decision,” Attorney General Hunter said. “Allowing cameras in the courtroom will give Oklahomans across the state and individuals from across the country a firsthand account of the proceedings. It will also allow individuals to see how these companies maliciously deceived the nation while creating the deadliest man-made epidemic in United States history.”

Judge Balkman’s order says while he will permit the use of cameras, he may limit such use to protect privacy, for example when a witness may testify on sensitive medical information.

The order also appoints Oklahoma City attorney Bob Burke as a special master to consult with parties to recommend further rules to preserve the dignity of the court.

 To read the order, click here.