Los Angeles County Supervisors voted Tuesday to consider selling broadcast rights to the O.J. Simpson murder trial, a decision immediately labeled unconstitutional by a media lawyer.
“We’re not trying to hurt television stations,” said Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke. “We’re not trying to take away their profits. We just want a part of it.”
Said Supervisor Mike Antonovich, “It is only fair then that the media contribute its fair share to defray the county’s rising costs for this trial.”
The county to date has spent an estimated $2.5 million, including $197,814 for jury sequestration, which began Jan. 11. Sheriff Sherman Block estimates his department alone will spend $1.6 million for trial security.
The extra burden comes as the county, already undergoing a fiscal crisis, considers cutting back public services and personnel.
Attorney Kelli Sager, who represents a number of media organizations, including ABC, CBS and CNN, said she would appeal the supervisors’ decision.
The supervisors voted to create a task force to study the feasibility of contracting with private businesses to package and sell recordings of trial proceedings.