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“In Open Court: Courtroom Closures and the Sixth Amendment Right to a Public Trial”

Department of Justice Journal of Federal Law and Practice Luke Cass

Below is an excerpt:

I. Introduction
Within the pantheon of constitutional liberties, a criminal defendant’s right to a public trial is singularly significant. It is embedded in our fiber as Americans and synonymous with fairness for courts to be open and their proceedings transparent. Despite its seemingly obvious nature, public trial jurisprudence can sometimes feel like a dramatically unsettled area of law and presents unique, nuanced litigation challenges both at the district court and appellate levels. This article will examine the history of this area of law, its evolution, the various types of closures, and how courts handle them. At the end, this article suggests best practices to counter courtroom closure claims and avoid reversals based on public trial right violations.