In a closed-door conclusion to a largely closed-door proceeding, Clark County District Judge Rob Bare on Tuesday cleared the way for news media cameras to record Las Vegas Sands Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson’s appearance on the witness stand.
The ruling came with the unusual twist of Donald Campbell, the attorney representing the Las Vegas Review-Journal and two local TV stations, reading a statement outlining the ruling instead of the judge delivering it from the bench. However, the statement excluded any findings by Bare on whether Adelson faces an aggravated safety threat because of the presence of cameras as Sands attorneys had argued.
No other attorneys commented on the result.
“What better way to demonstrate to the public that its courts are fair and just than to say to the public, ‘Come and view the proceedings yourself and judge for yourself,’ ” Bare said in the statement.
Legal arguments over the cameras, along with Bare’s full ruling, remained behind closed doors because they included parts of confidential testimony given Monday by Brian Nagel, the head of Sands’ global security team.
Nagel asserted in court papers that the presence of cameras, both still and video, created unspecified threats. Talking about them publicly could jeopardize the company’s sources and information- gathering methods, he said.
New York-based Courtroom View Network will carry the video feed of the entire trial, making it available to other news outlets for no charge. However, its attempt to unseal the entire record because it did not pose any safety problem for Adelson was turned down.
Sands has never divulged the nature of the threat. Media members and attorneys for former Sands consultant Richard Suen argued that Adelson has been in front of cameras so frequently, such as during the 2012 presidential campaign, that the trial would not pose any additional danger.
To make its case that the cameras should remain barred, Sands brought in attorney Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard University law professor who has spent more than four decades arguing for greater camera access to courtrooms. After appearing in person Friday and Monday, he took part Tuesday via phone.
The underlying case was brought nine years ago by Suen, who claims his connections with prominent Chinese government officials helped Sands secure its lucrative gaming license in Macau. The 29-day jury trial in 2008 won him a $43.8 million verdict, which grew to $60 million with interest, but it was overturned in late 2010 by the Nevada Supreme Court. The high court ruled that the district judge should not have admitted hearsay statements during the trial and should have instructed the jury that it could assume the government was operating as it is supposed to.
The opening statements in the retrial are scheduled for today with jury selection complete.
Adelson is set to testify Thursday, after a previous court-approved arrangement allowed him one travel day to return from Israel following the end of Passover on Tuesday.
As his testimony nears, so has the interest in covering it. Besides the Review-Journal, Las Vegas television stations KLAS, Channel 8; KNTV, Channel 13; KSNV, Channel 3; as well as The New York Times and PBS are among those that have submitted coverage requests.