The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week that jury voire dire proceedings should be open to defendants and the public. The high court also said that a trial judge has a duty to seek alternatives that will preserve openness even when, for example, it appears that there are so many prospective jurors in a courtroom, that there is no room for observers to sit. “Trial courts are obligated to take every reasonable measure to accommodate public attendance at criminal trials,” the court majority wrote. “The public has the right to be present whether or not any party has asserted the right.” Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justice Antonin Scalia, diessented, asserting that the case should have been decided only after full briefing and oral argument.
The case is: Presley v. Georgia, U.S. S. Ct, 1/19/10, 09-5720