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Name: U.S. v. Ivester
Case #: 01-10260
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 01/15/2003

During appellant’s trial for sale of methamphetamine, some of the jurors expressed concern for their safety because of the intimidating appearance of some of the courtroom spectators. The court discussed the issue with counsel in open court with the jury absent. The court decided to question one of the jurors, and over the objection of counsel, ordered the spectators to leave. While the spectators were gone, the court also questioned the jurors as a group and reassured them concerning security. The jury expressed no continued concern after the discussion. On appeal, appellant argued that the exclusion of the spectators from the mid-trial questioning of the jurors violated his right to a public trial. The appellate court rejected the argument, finding that the discussion was technical and administrative, and so trivial as to not impact appellant’s Sixth Amendment rights. Appellant also argued that the district court abused its discretion by not allowing his counsel to question the jurors who had been identified as having concerns. The appellate court rejected that argument as well, finding that the trial court had already conducted a preliminary inquiry which showed no reasonable possibility of prejudice, and therefore further inquiry was not required.