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By RACHEL D'ORO
ANCHORAGE — The eldest son of former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is seeking to bar the media from covering court hearings after he was accused of assaulting his father last year at the family home in Alaska.
A lawyer for Track Palin, 29, filed a motion Friday to prohibit or limit media access to proceedings in Veterans Court, including a hearing scheduled to take place Tuesday.
Palin's attorney, Patrick Bergt, said the motion was filed on grounds to ensure the case does not become a distraction to other veterans in the system. Veterans Court is part of Alaska's therapeutic court system.
Bergt said he also plans to file an application next week to formally transfer the case to the Veterans Court. The case is officially in Superior Court in Palmer north of Anchorage.
Anchorage District Court Judge David Wallace denied media requests to cover pre-trial proceedings earlier this week in Veterans Court. He cited an administrative rule that requires media requests to be submitted at least 24 hours ahead of time as the reason for barring reporters, though judges have leeway and have granted approval in a much shorter timeframe.
Wallace was appointed to the bench by Sarah Palin when she was Alaska's governor. A phone message left at the court asking if Wallace planned to recuse himself because of that tie was not immediately returned.
Anchorage-based media attorney John McKay said he has no issue with Wallace overseeing the case, even as a Sarah Palin appointee. The system allows either side to pre-empt a judge if they feel it's appropriate, McKay said.
"I think we have an excellent system of picking judges and an excellent track record with judges," he said.
McKay said he didn't know enough about the defense motion regarding the media to comment on it.
Track Palin was arrested in December after his mother told authorities her son was on some kind of medication and "freaking out." A police affidavit says father Todd Palin was bleeding from head cuts. He told police the dispute began when his son called to pick up his truck from the Palins' home in Wasilla.
According to the affidavit, Todd Palin said he told Track Palin not to come to the house but that his son said he would come anyway to beat him up. Todd Palin told police he got his pistol "to protect his family."
Track Palin told police he broke a window, disarmed his father and put him on the ground.
A Wasilla police officer wrote in the affidavit that Todd and Sarah Palin had left the home when police arrived and that she was visibly upset.
Track Palin yelled at officers, calling them peasants, and "moved around in a strange manner" before being arrested without incident, the affidavit says.
He told police he "consumed a few beers earlier," the document says.
Track Palin pleaded not guilty in January to a felony burglary charge in the incident. He also faces misdemeanor charges of assault and criminal mischief.
In 2016, Track Palin was suspected of punching his then-girlfriend, who then became concerned that he was going to shoot himself with a rifle, court documents said.
He faced several charges but pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm while intoxicated, and the other charges were dismissed.
His then-girlfriend later filed for custody of their child and requested a protective order against Track Palin, who served in Iraq for a year in 2008.
Sarah Palin indicated that post-traumatic stress disorder might have been a factor in that case.
Veterans Court gives eligible veterans the option of enrolling in mental health treatment programs instead of a traditional sentence.
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