Mueller attorney, TMZ lock horns over courtroom coverage
December 21, 2011
ASPEN – Fearing that a tabloid website’s coverage would “feed a media frenzy,” attorneys for Brooke Mueller have filed a legal brief aiming to stop a live audio feed from the courtroom when the celebrity appears in Aspen to face drug and assault charges.
Aspen attorney Richie Cummins recently introduced court papers lobbying Pitkin County District Judge Gail Nichols to rule against TMZ’s request for expanded media coverage in the case. Mueller, 34, is due in court Jan. 23 to answer one felony charge of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and a misdemeanor assault offense.
Aspen police arrested Mueller, the ex-wife of actor Charlie Sheen, on Dec. 3.
Responding to a complaint from the Belly Up nightclub about assault accusations against Mueller, police tracked her down at the Escobar nightclub and arrested her outside the club. Police say they found between 4 and 5 grams of cocaine in her possession.
On Dec. 14, TMZ, which broke the story and has provided exhaustive coverage of the arrest, petitioned the court for expanded media coverage of Mueller’s first court appearance.
The request awaits a ruling from Nichols, who has set Dec. 29 as the deadline for any objections.
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Cummins has filed the only objection so far, contending on Dec. 16 that a camera in the courtroom will “unduly detract from the solemnity, decorum and dignity of this court and the proceedings.”
Cummins also argued that there is “more than a reasonable likelihood that expanded media coverage would interfere with Ms. Mueller’s right to a fair trial … and create adverse effects greater than those caused by traditional media coverage.”
TMZ has yet to formally reply to Cummins’ argument, but the website addressed his argument in a story Wednesday titled “Brooke Mueller: Don’t screw with dignity in my coke case.”
The website also took a potshot at Cummins’ assertion that “without a live audio feed, this case may become less interesting.”
TMZ replied, “How’s this for less interesting – don’t walk around Aspen with 4 grams of cocaine … allegedly.”
In Colorado, expanded media coverage is open to the discretion of the judge.
When Sheen appeared in Pitkin County District Court over the course of 2010 for his domestic-violence case involving Mueller, Judge James Boyd issued a courtroom decorum that prohibited cell phones, cameras, laptop computers and other electronic devices into the courtroom during the proceedings. Attendants of courtroom proceedings for Sheen, who was arrested on Christmas Day in 2009, were screened before entering the courtroom.