LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A federal judge on Wednesday temporarily limited who can see the video from the deposition of a legislator who sponsored a measure requiring a Ten Commandments statue at Arkansas’ Capitol in the lawsuit challenging the monument.
The decision came after state Sen. Jason Rapert raised concerns the video could be used to harass him. U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker said a deposition of Rapert will go forward as planned, but issued a temporary order preventing additional copies of his deposition from being made or distributed.
Rapert, a Republican, sponsored the 2015 law requiring the privately funded monument on Capitol grounds. The monument was installed at the Capitol last year, less than a year after a man crashed his car into the original display. Several groups and Arkansas residents are challenging the monument.
Baker’s order came hours after Paul Byrd, an attorney for Rapert, asked that the video only be available to attorneys in the case. Byrd, in a filing Wednesday, said the deposition video could be used for “extreme embarrassment and harassment.”
“Once the videotape is in plaintiffs’ possession, there will be nothing preventing them from using it for their purposes, including disseminating it widely on the internet, thereby creating countless opportunities for embarrassing Senator Rapert by cutting and splicing the videotape in as many ways as can be imagined,” the filing said.
In her order, Baker said the video and its confidentiality must be maintained by attorneys for a group of plaintiffs in the case that include the American Humanist Association and the Freedom from Religion Foundation. She said no other copies could be made or distributed to anyone else unless ordered by the court.
Attorneys for opponents of the monument said earlier that the order Rapert sought would prevent them from even showing the video to their clients.
“Senator Rapert has shown no legitimate basis for special treatment in this case,” they said in a filing Wednesday.
The lawsuit over the monument is scheduled to go to trial in December.
By ANDREW DeMILLO
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