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Name: U.S. v. Dharni
Case #: 11-16438
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 01/03/2014

The Sixth Amendment right to a public trial is not implicated by a “trivial courtroom closure” to spectators for a limited and uncertain duration of time. The Sixth Amendment, which guarantees the accused in a criminal prosecution a speedy and public trial, extends to jury voir dire. The values behind the right are: to insure a fair trial; remind the prosecutor and judge of their responsibility to the accused and the importance of their functions; to encourage witnesses to come forward; and to discourage perjury. All closures of the courtroom do not necessarily result in a violation of the right. Here the court called a large number of potential jurors who filled every available seat in the courtroom. Because of crowding, the judge asked all spectators to remain outside during voir dire until seats “opened up.” Five spectators did reenter the courtroom, but the court did not affirmatively invite them back. Held: this closure was a trivial closure that did not implicate Dharni’s Sixth Amendment right.