Both the defense team and the prosecution fought to keep the photos from going public because, they said, it would be prejudicial to potential jurors. But a judge ruled on Friday that he had no authority to overrule a prior appeals court opinion on the release of booking photos.
"If someone didn't tell me these were mug shots, I wouldn't have known," U.S. District Judge Larry Burns said. "The frontal shot in this case I think is tamer than the picture circulated widely on the Internet."
More than a dozen media outlets had also asked for both the photos and search warrant records to be released under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act. The judge rejected the request in regard to the search warrant records.
Mugshots are typically not released by the U.S. Marshals Service unless there is a law enforcement reason. But in the Sixth District, the Marshals Service does release booking photos in response to FOIA requests, due to a 1996 court decision that only applies to that District and which the Justice Department did not appeal. As this FOIA log shows, requests are routinely rejected because they do not originate from or pertain to the Sixth Circuit. Requestors must be based in or request photos from either Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio or Tennessee for the requests to receive approval.
The booking photos below were obtained independently by TPM from the U.S. Marshals Service.