Wash. high court wrestles with public trial rightNovember 21, 2012 @ 10:43 am
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Washington's Supreme Court is ordering new trials for three defendants, saying their right to a public trial was violated when potential jurors were questioned behind closed doors.
The justices wrestled with the topic, issuing 14 lead, concurring and dissenting opinions Wednesday in four separate cases.
In three, involving burglary and molestation defendants, the justices held that any time potential jurors are questioned privately, the judge must determine whether there's a compelling reason for it, give those present an opportunity to object, and weigh the need for closure against the open administration of justice.
In the fourth case, the justices said that a judge's decision to answer a legal question from the jury in chambers did not violate a murder defendant's public trial right.
Chief Justice Barbara Madsen said the court's approach is too strict because it reflexively overturns convictions without any analysis of whether the defendant received a fair trial.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
Bonneville Media encourages site users to express their opinions by posting comments. Our goal is to maintain a civil dialogue in which readers feel comfortable. At times, the comments can descend to personal attacks. Please do not engage in such behavior. We encourage your thoughtful comments which: have a positive and constructive tone, are on topic, are respectful toward others and their opinions. Bonneville reserves the right to remove comments which do not conform to these criteria.