Judge: ‘No media allowed’ for sentencing, victim statements in Dorsey trial

Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies investigate a stabbing on Fir Court in Saugus on Thursday, April 15, 2021. Tim Whyte/The Signal

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge in San Fernando is refusing to allow media in the courtroom during the victim impact statements and sentencing of James Dorsey, the estranged husband who pleaded no contest this week to the murder of his wife.  

In a standing order issued at the beginning of the trial, the defense requested out of the presence of their client that there be no video/photographing/broadcasting of the proceedings.  

Judge Cynthia Ulfig then granted the request, sealed the transcript of the motion and cleared the courtroom of media personnel April 19. 

Court officials added Wednesday afternoon that the closing off of the hearing to the media was not the result of COVID-19, but rather due to what was written in the court record. 

The order by Ulfig remains in effect, according to Ann Donlan, communications director for the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, and no media will be present June 21 to hear the victims express the hurt Dorsey caused them nor hear the sentencing he will receive.  

Given the lack of sentencing enhancements in the case, law enforcement personnel have indicated their belief Dorsey could be ordered to serve as little as 20 years in prison, despite having pleaded no contest to having sneaked into Michelle Dorsey’s home April 15 to stab her to death while their children slept in their rooms.  

On Monday, Dorsey pleaded no contest — what is essentially treated as a guilty plea — to all five of the following charges: murder, attempted kidnapping, residential burglary, evading police and resisting a law enforcement officer.  

“Court’s order prohibiting media presence … is a standing order, until further ordered by the court,” the court document reads.  

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