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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 73253 Find in a Library
Title: Public and Press Access to Pretrial Suppression Hearings
Journal: University of Cincinnati Law Review  Volume:47  Dated:(1978)  Pages:444-468
Author(s): D A Woodard
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 25
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The example of three pretrial suppression hearings shows that the accused's right to a fair trial and the public's right to acquire information can be accorded the widest possible latitude.
Abstract: The three cases in which the accused requested a closed hearing and the prosecution consented were 'Gannett Co. versus DePasquale', 'Philadelphia Newspapers, Inc. versus Jerome', and the 'United States versus Cianfrani'. In the first and second cases, district court judges' decisions to grant the request of the accused in order to prevent pretrial publicity were upheld by higher courts. It was decided that the accused's right to a fair trial outweighed the public's and the press's right to acquire information guaranteed by the first amendment. Furthermore, it was decided that the sixth amendment which guarantees the right to the public trial did not embrace rights of the public and press to attend suppression hearings. Rather, it assured the accused the enjoyment of the rights believed to enhance the probability of a fair trial. In the third case, the Third Circuit Court ruled that only the portion of the hearing which was necessary to protect the accused's right to privacy should be closed to the public. In this case, the accused was a public official and most of the testimony dealt with the propriety of the government's conduct - an area of legitimate public concern. To discover any actual conflict between public access to a particular suppression hearing and the fair trial rights of the accused, motions to close suppression hearings should be subjected to a two-pronged analysis. First, it should be determined that disclosure of inadmissible evidence could result in prejudice to the rights of the accused (e.g., by estimating the level of public interest in the case, or by determining if the prejudicial evidence has been previously made public). Second, the judge should determine that there are no less restrictive means for precluding any prejudicial effect (e.g., voir dire, continuance, and sequestration). History of a right of public and press access, the factual background and holdings of three lead cases, and footnotes are included.
Index Term(s): Press relations; Pretrial hearings; Pretrial publicity; Public Attitudes/Opinion; Right to fair trial; Rights of the accused
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