PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — For the first time in recent memory at the Allegheny County Courthouse, a video feed will be used in a second courtroom in addition to the seating in the trial courtroom so that overflow crowds can see the Richard Poplawski case.
But court administrators warn the same court rules apply in the overflow room.
“The same rules apply to that room as they do in the main courtroom itself,” said administrator Ray Billotte. “And that means that no one will be permitted to use any type of recording devices, video or audio while they’re in that room.”
At this point, neither the Allegheny County Court Administrator’s office nor the Sheriff’s Office has a handle on what it may cost to put up a jury from Dauphin County, but given what previous high profile cases have cost, it’s going to be pretty expensive.
A 1996 jury brought here from Chester County for one of the cases in connection with the death of Jonny Gammage added up to $50,000 in jury costs for just one week.
But when it was discovered that jury was ordering high-end food, reforms were made. The 1997 Gammage case retrial lasted two weeks and added up to $60,000 in jury-related costs.
The 2001 trial of mass murderer Richard Baumhammers racked up $60,000 in jury costs for a three-week trial – about $42,000 of that for hotel costs alone.
And for perspective on more recent costs, the jury in the spring trial of State Senator Jane Orie was sequestered for just one night at a local hotel, costing about $3,600.
Those numbers just reflect jury costs.
During a 2001 interview, then-Allegheny County Sheriff Pete DeFazio was concerned that overtime costs for the trial of mass murderer Richard Baumhammers would skew his own budget.
He assigned two deputies on each shift around the clock to the sequestered jury plus five deputies to the Baumhammers trial itself, six days a week. DeFazio estimated it cost $27,000 a week in Sheriff department costs alone for the Baumhammers trial.
The office of current Sheriff Bill Mullen would not offer a cost of manpower projection for the Poplawski case, but expects current costs to be a lot higher.
To keep the trial moving, the court day is expected to begin at 9 a.m. and end at about 7 p.m.