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Judge Delays Jury Selection In Tensing Retrial

Tana Weingartner
Judge Leslie Ghiz

Update 2 p.m. Judge Leslie Ghiz is vacating her order restricting media access during the Tensing retrial.

In her motion, Ghiz states the change of heart is in light of an appeals court decision last week putting a moratorium on her order and setting a hearing for Wednesday. Shortly after vacating her order Tuesday, the appeals court filed a dismissal noting that the issue was now moot.

Judge Ghiz is now slated to hold an evidentiary hearing on Thursday at 9:30 a.m. to discuss media access to trial proceedings.

Original Post: A judge in Hamilton County, Ohio is delaying jury selection in the murder retrial of a white, former University of Cincinnati police officer for the shooting death of a black motorist during a 2015 traffic stop. The postponement is based on a pending appeals court hearing.

Just as questioning of potential jurors was set to begin, Judge Leslie Ghiz brought proceedings to a screeching halt.

An appeals court late last week put a moratorium on media restrictions imposed by the judge, and set a hearing for Wednesday. Local media had objected to the restrictions, arguing in court documents that the rules are contrary to those set forth by the Ohio Supreme Court and other federal courts.

The judge says she wants "guidance" from the appeals court before proceeding, and sent potential jurors home for the day.

"The jury has been released at this time," said Ghiz. "They are essentially in a holding pattern until I get some guidance from [the court of appeals]."

Ghiz continued, "On Friday, the court of appeals put a decision out that says my order restricting media access to the jurors, the juror questionnaire, was invalid as a matter of law. As a result of that, I am not bringing a jury in until I can figure out how we do it in a different manner."

A blank version of the questionnaire filled out by potential jurors has been released. The 23-page document is largely similar to the 25-page form given to jurors in the first trial. It asks general biographical information, personal feelings on Blue Lives Matter and Black Lives Matter, and the criminal justice system, body cameras, and experience with weapons.

New this time are questions about what potential jurors know about the first trial, which media outlets they favor, and whether someone would be willing to serve knowing their identity may be made public. The questionnaire does point out that none of the jurors in the first trial have been identified.

Outside the courtroom, DuBose family attorney Al Gerhardstein said the family is "very upset the case is being delayed" and he's hopeful the trial can "get back on track."

The judge had also limited the number of family members that would be allowed in the courtroom, at least during jury selection.

Ray Tensing is charged with murder and voluntary manslaughter for the shooting death of Sam DuBose during a traffic stop for a missing front license plate. The first trial ended in a hung jury in November.