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Name: Weaver v. Massachusetts
Case #: 16-240
Court: US Supreme Court
District USSup
Opinion Date: 06/22/2017
Subsequent History: 137 S.Ct. 1899

Although a violation of the right to a public trial is structural error, when the claim is raised in the context of an ineffective assistance of counsel claim, defendant must show prejudice to obtain relief. Weaver's trial was held in a courtroom that could not accommodate all potential jurors so, for two days during jury selection, court officers excluded all other members of the public, including Weaver's mother and minister. Trial counsel did not object and Weaver did not raise the issue on direct review. Five years later, Weaver filed a motion for a new trial, arguing his trial counsel…

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Name: People v. Scott
Case #: B270426
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 04/04/2017

Exclusion of defendant's family members during a portion of trial violated defendant's right to a public trial. Defendant was charged with six robbery-related counts, each count pertaining to a different victim. During trial, the mother of one victim reportedly received threats over the telephone that the minor victim's testimony would "cause problems." The court granted the prosecution's request to exclude appellant's family members during portions of the trial, citing "mounting evidence" of witness intimidation. Defendant appealed. Held: Reversed in part. A criminal defendant’s right to a public trial includes the right to have friends and relatives present during the proceedings.…

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Name: United States v. Yazzie
Case #: 12-10165
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 02/27/2014

District court did not violate defendants' Sixth Amendment right to public trial by closing courtroom during testimony of minor sexual molest victims. In a consolidated opinion, the Ninth Circuit addressed the claims of defendants Yazzie and George that the trial court erred by closing the courtroom during the testimony of several minors who were the victims of sexual abuse. Held: Affirmed. The Sixth Amendment guarantees an accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial. However, the right is not absolute. In Waller v. Georgia (1984) 467 U.S. 39, the court identified factors to consider on a case-by-case…

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Name: Presley v. Georgia
Case #: Sep-70
Court: US Supreme Court
District USSup
Opinion Date: 01/19/2010
Subsequent History: 130 S.Ct. 721; 175 L.Ed.2d 675

The trial court is required to consider alternatives to closure of courtroom to public during jury selection. Just before jury selection in Presley's trial for cocaine trafficking, the trial court instructed a lone courtroom observer to leave. The court questioned the man, and learned he was Presley's uncle. Presley's counsel objected to the exclusion of the public from the courtroom, and the court explained that there was not enough room for him, given the number of potential jurors. At a motion for new trial, Presley presented evidence that there was adequate room in the courtroom for…

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Name: People v. Esquibel
Case #: B165767
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 8
Opinion Date: 08/29/2008

Temporary exclusion of two spectators during minor witness's testimony did not violate appellant's right to a public trial. During appellant's trial for attempted murder, the trial court excluded two of the defendant's friends during the testimony of a seven-year-old witness. The witness's mother was afraid that the friends would subsequently recognize the child in the neighborhood, and she feared for his safety. On appeal following appellant's conviction, he argued that the exclusion of the two spectators violated his right to a public trial. The appellate court concluded that there was no constitutional violation and that any violation of appellant's statutory…

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Name: Bellas v. Superior Court (People)
Case #: A091294
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 12/18/2000
Subsequent History: None

The trial court erred in issuing a contempt order against a deputy public defender for refusing to return to the court defense copies of juror questionnaires prepared by the venire in a criminal prosecution. The U.S. Constitution's First Amendment interest in providing public access to judicial proceedings outweighs the jurors' generalized privacy interests as to the content of the questionnaires, and the jurors should have been so advised by the court. As to personal identifying information of trial jurors, the law provides limited privacy protection by requiring the redaction of their identifying information unless good cause for access…

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Name: People v. England
Case #: C032080
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 09/12/2000
Subsequent History: Review denied 12/20/00

Holding appellant's jury trial on the prison grounds did not violate appellant's right to a public trial or the Standards of Judicial Administration where the courtroom was physically and visually remote from the prison, was outside the prison wires, was accessible to the press and general public, and the only inmates jurors might have seen were tending the garden. Because the trial was on prison grounds, it was the warden, rather than the trial judge, who could determine whether any felon could attend the trial. This, however, did not violate the separation of powers clause because appellant failed…

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Name: People v. Catlin
Case #: S016718
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 07/16/2001
Subsequent History: Modif. on 9/26/01; rehg. den. on 9/26/01

Appellant was not denied due process of law because there was a nine-year delay between the murder of his fourth wife and the prosecution. The delay was justified because there was insufficient evidence that appellant had poisoned his wife with paraquat until the similar poisoning of his mother occurred. Further, the justification for the delay far outweighed the weak showing of prejudice caused to appellant. Counsel was not ineffective for failing to suppress evidence seized during a warrantless search. Since the search in question was consensual, the motion would have been meritless. Counsel was not ineffective for failing…

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Name: People v. Barnum
Case #: C031302
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 01/29/2001
Subsequent History: Review granted 4/18/01 (S095872)

Editor's Note: Review granted. An in-prison jury trial does not in itself establish that the trial was unfair. Appellant failed to show prejudice resulting from the location of the trial. The trial, for battery by an inmate on a correctional officer, was a credibility contest which focused on whether the guards had acted lawfully or provoked the inmates. Necessarily, the jury already knew that appellant was an inmate, and in fact, stated when issuing their verdict that although they found him guilty, they thought that the officers could have avoided the whole incident if they had used…

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