Judge Takes Prelim To Twitter

Monroe Lockhart

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - In what could be a first in Kansas courts, the only electronic media coming out of an upcoming Shawnee County Court hearing will be social media.

District Court Judge Mark Braun is not allowing cameras, audio recording or photos during Thursday's preliminary hearing for Monroe Lockhart.

Reporters have been allowed to Tweet from court proceedings before, but usually at least still photos also have been allowed.

The former managing partner of Mo's Express Convenience Store and two other men are charged with entering a southeast Topeka home last November, assaulting a woman and threatening to kill a man who also was there. Former Mo's Express manager Anthony Talbert is one of the other men charged.

Despite the restrictions, however, Braun will allow reporters to send text messages or tweets using a handheld device. Braun calls it an experiment that recognizes reporting capabilities have change.

"As judge, I have to balance a defendant's rights with rights of public access and media access," Braun wrote of the decision.

Braun is part of a committee studying social media in the courts. The social media allowance applies only to this particular court hearing.

The former Mo's Express is in the Hudson Crossing Shopping Center, which has been the center of several violent incidents. Two clerks were shot during a holdup at the convenience store in November. On Christmas Eve, a worker at the center's liquor store was killed during a robbery. Finally, in January, one of the center's developers, Corey Brown, was found dead in rural Douglas County.

While a man faces charges for the liquor store killing, police have not yet made arrests in the November incident or in Brown's death.