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Preliminary hearing for Paul and Ruben Flores to start July 6, judge rules media allowed to videotape proceedings

Flores Pre-Preliminary Hearing (SLO County Superior Court/Zoom)

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- The preliminary hearing for Paul Flores and his father Ruben Flores will begin on Monday, July 6.

The start of the much-anticipated court hearing was set on Monday during a pre-preliminary hearing at San Luis Obispo County Superior Court.

During the 20-minute proceeding, the majority of time was spent arguing a motion made by Paul Flores' defense attorney Robert Sanger.

Sanger asked Judge Craig van Rooyen to block television cameras to cover the preliminary hearing.

In his motion, Sanger said cameras would undermine the fairness and dignity of the proceedings and will deprive the defendant of his rights to due process and fair trial under the Fifth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and California Constitution.

Dan Laidman, an attorney representing NBC Universal, countered the motion was lacking in any details of how the coverage would affect fair trial rights or rights of privacy.

He also emphasized the significant role cameras have in helping informing the public of the proceedings.

"Allowing people to see and hear what actually happens and is said in a courtroom, it's an important part of that criminal justice process and important for people to understand how this case is resolved," said Laidman. "No matter the outcome, whatever happens ultimately."

Van Rooyen ultimately agreed with Laidman and said cameras would remain in place for the preliminary hearing.

"After considering the briefing and the rule, I am not going to alter the existing order to allow audio recording and broadcasting," said Van Rooyen. "I've weighed the factors. The court's biggest concern is to maintain the fairness of the proceeding, and especially if this case proceeds to trial, ensuring that we can select a fair and and unbiased jury."

The judge ruled that only one video and one still camera will be allowed inside the courtroom and will be used in "pool" format, where one media outlet shoots video or photos and shares it with other news outlets.

He also said the media will not be allowed to shoot pictures of witnesses or audience members and all audio recordings will be restricted, just as it has for all of the court appearances since Paul and Ruben Flores were both arrested on April 13.

Paul Flores has been charged in the 1996 murder of Cal Poly student Kristin Smart, while Ruben Flores has been charged as an accessory to the crime.

Paul Flores has been in custody at San Luis Obispo County Jail after his request for bail was denied by Judge Craig van Rooyen following his arrest.

Ruben Flores has been out on bail after his reduced his bail from $250,000 to $50,000 on April 22.

Both defendants will have to appear in court physically during the preliminary hearing, which is scheduled to last 12 days.

Van Rooyen also said there will be no livestream broadcast of the proceedings, unlike the other Flores court hearings.

At the end of Monday's hearing Deputy District Attorney Chris Peuvrelle asked for a third and final pre-preliminary hearing.

When Sanger asked for specifics for the unexpected move, Peuvrelle declined to state the nature of his request.

After all parties agreed to the hearing, it was scheduled for Wednesday, June 23 at 1:30 p.m.

Article Topic Follows: Crime & Courts

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Dave Alley

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