The sole company providing cable television service in Howard County for almost 13 years asked a Circuit Court judge yesterday to reverse a County Council decision that would allow a second cable franchise to operate in the county.
Storer Communication Inc. said in an appeal that the council violated county law last month when it passed a resolution conditionally giving Mid-Atlantic Cable TV Communications permission to provide cable service in the fast-growing southeastern corner of the county.
The company argued that the council had failed to prove that there was a need for additional service and bypassed normal contracting procedures when it failed to solicit bids from other companies. ecutors said they favored cameras in the courtrooms for both murder trials as a public service, but defense attorneys said the cameras would heighten public sentiment against the Diehls.
"She's been tried and convicted in the press already," said Thomas B. Shuttleworth, attorney for Mrs. Diehl. "The court needs to be very vigilant to see that her constitutional rights are protected."
Richard G. Brydges, a noted local criminal attorney, testified in Michael Diehl's hearing that he opposes cameras in the courtroom for any trial.
"I think the media do a good job outside the courtroom," Brydges said.
During a recess in the hearings, Hanson told reporters he was pleased with the first day of the experiment.
"I think it went well. I think the media people have been very cooperative," he said. "When I asked them to stop filming they were very prompt."
Hanson said the cameras presented little distraction.
"Initially you're aware that you're being watched very closely. After a few minutes it's just like any other proceeding," he said.
The media coordinators for the radio and television stations also said the first day of the experiment went smoothly.
A still photographer and a television cameraman in the courtroom provided pool coverage for other media organizations. Radio stations recorded the proceedings by hooking into the court audio system from a trailer parked outside the court building.
Although the experiment was authorized to start in six courts Wednesday, Virginia Beach apparently was the only court to participate.
Bedford County Circuit Judge William W. Sweeney said he would not allow the experiment to begin in his court until the media appoint pool representatives, said Jim Kent, assistant news director for WDBJ-TV in Roanoke.
Media officials in the Lynchburg-Roanoke area have said they are most interested in getting cameras ready for the Aug. 24 trial of Elizabeth Haysom, who is charged along with her West German boyfriend with killing her wealthy parents.
Judges in the two general district courts participating in the experiment -- Charlottesville and Caroline County -- said no news organizations asked to be in their court Wednesday. Charlottesville General District Judge Paul M. Peatross Jr. said some broadcasters planned to record a day of court proceedings Thursday.
The experiment also covers the Virginia Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals, but they are not in session this week.