Posted on October 31, 2012 in Criminal Law
Under the 6th Amendment, a Defendant is guaranteed the right to a public trial. If that is true, then how do courts get away with closing down courtrooms (aka, kicking the public out) when certain types of testimony is offered? (You’ll see this frequently when a child sex victim is testifying.)
In Florida, a recent case highlighted the legal standard that must be shown before the presumption of openness can be overcome.
The US Supreme Court case of Waller (467 US at 48) sets out four requirements that must be shown before the Court can kick out the public.
- The party seeking to close the hearing must advance an overriding interest that is likely to be prejudiced.
- Closure must be no broader than necessary to protect that interest.
- Trial court must consider reasonable alternatives to closing the proceedings; and
- The court must make findings adequate to support the closure.
Keep in mind there may be certain statutory exemptions for closure as well, depending on a state-by-state basis.
Although those charged with crimes are guaranteed the right to a public trial under the 6th Amendment, sometimes courts "close down" the courtroom when receiving certain types of testimony. This means the court "kicks out" members of the public to protect certain sensitive matters. But what kinds of findings does a court need to make before closing down a courtroom?This article will discuss the four requirements for kicking the public out.