Thursday, July 24, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Closing court is wrong and pointless

By
From page A12 | February 02, 2014 |

The issue: Open access is a fundamental American right

Understandably, defense lawyers seek every advantage they can in order to secure a not-guilty verdict. But in the case of Daniel Marsh, the teenager accused in the gruesome slayings of Oliver “Chip” Northup and his wife Claudia Maupin, the defense has overreached by seeking to deprive the public of access to court proceedings in order to defend the young man from revelations that are already public.

MARSH’S ATTORNEY, Rob Johnson, filed a motion to exclude the teenager’s alleged confession to police, and he wants the hearing on that motion closed. The defense asserts that the publicity surrounding the case compromises Marsh’s right to a fair trial. Not only does he want the suppression hearing closed, he is demanding that the transcript of the hearing be sealed and a gag order imposed on participants.

Federal and state courts have consistently ruled that the public’s right of access is an important part of American democracy, and guaranteed by the First Amendment. Judges have ruled over and over that any closure must be “essential to preserve higher values” (that is, the integrity of the verdict) and narrowly tailored to achieve that end.

As long as other remedies exist to offset any potentially prejudicial information — jury screening, admonitions, instructions and even change of venue — the public’s interest in open proceedings must take precedence.

IN THE CASE of suppression hearings, the public’s interest is especially important because the procedures often center around the conduct of police and prosecutors. If the defense is going to make and substantiate allegations of official misconduct by public servants, the citizens of Yolo County need to know about it.

In Marsh’s case, not only is the level of publicity nowhere near enough to compromise his right to a fair trial, the very remedy the defense seeks is impossible to grant, because the confession is already public. Judge Timothy Fall, the first of three judges to get this case, ruled against an almost-identical motion in the preliminary hearing phase, and the confession was entered into evidence. That particular cat is out of the bag.

NOW, THE DECISION comes to Judge David Reed. He has before him a straightforward set of circumstances backed by precedent going all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. Marsh’s right to a fair trial will not be compromised by an open hearing; in fact, it cannot be compromised.

This maneuver by the defense wastes the court’s time and it wastes the people’s time. It will be in everyone’s interest to move forward.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

News

Ag officials predict bumper almond crop

By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Teens lead the way in fight against cancer

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Victim of fatal crash identified

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
Official: Air Algerie flight ‘probably crashed’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
New-home sales plummet in June

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
CSU pumps brakes on enrollment growth

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Diplomas all around for professor and sons

By Dave Jones | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Consumption guidelines for Cache Creek fish updated

By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A3

 
Local singer/songwriter will perform Friday on KDRT

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

Davis Flea hosts night market Sunday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Free technology help offered to seniors

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Contestants sought for Yolo County Fair Queen contest

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Parents can learn all about IEPs

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Museum sells market bags as fundraiser

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
City of Davis recruits for its advisory commissions

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Colleges woo Native Americans with new programs

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Zip Book: Request it, read it, return it

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

.

Forum

Battle lines are drawn

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Water trains through Davis

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 2 Comments

Water storage must be a priority

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

 
Act now to support middle school students

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

Don’t tell me I can’t help him

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
.

Sports

UCD coach has navigated a Maze of experiences

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Lethargic and roster-thin, Post 77 loses Area 1 opener

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

Pence outscores Phillies

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Quincy Amarikwa: years in the making

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Area sports briefs: Nelson earns All-Academic honors

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

 
Youth roundup: Aftershock finishes second in tournament

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

Majka makes winning look easy

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10 | Gallery

 
.

Features

Name Droppers: Transportation fellowship goes to Aggie

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

 
.

Arts

 
‘South Pacific’ storyline still making waves

By Bev Sykes | From Page: A7 | Gallery

‘The Miracle Worker’ auditions set for WOH

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

Death notice: James Thomas Feather

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A2

 
.

Comics

Comics: Thursday, July 24, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B8