A newspaper was ordered by a judge to turn over 144 unpublished crime-scene photographs to the lawyer for a teenager charged with murder in a gang fight.
The Santa Barbara Daily Sound was given until Friday to provide the images to the county public defender’s office, which is representing defendant Ricardo Juarez.
The newspaper could be held in contempt of court if it misses the deadline, Superior Court Judge Brian Hill said Monday.
Michael Cooney, an attorney representing the paper, said the publication had not decided whether to turn over the photographs or face a contempt hearing next Monday.
Cooney said the ruling could have a chilling effect on the media if journalists thought their material might wind up in court.
“The newsgathering function is what’s at stake here,” he said.
The prosecutor in the murder case said the ruling was unusual.
“In my more than 25 years as a prosecutor, I’ve never had a court order a member of the news media to disclose unpublished information to the court,” Senior Deputy District Attorney Hilary Dozer said.
Juarez, 14, is charged with stabbing to death Luis Angel Linares during a March 14 fight. He is being tried as an adult and has pleaded not guilty to murder.
His attorney argued that the photographs taken minutes after the fight might provide evidence that could help his case.
The judge said he believed the state’s shield law, which allows