Hawaii news media seek court ruling on open trials

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 10/09/2013 - 2:04pm

From Honolulu Civil Beat: News organizations throughout the state are asking the Hawaii Supreme Court to make it clear that a judge can't close a criminal trial or hear arguments in secret unless the press and public are first given a chance to object.

Hawaii is the only state that has not expressly asserted the First Amendment right to attend criminal judicial proceedings, according to a "friend of the court" brief expected to be filed Monday in a case that seeks the release of transcripts from closed sessions of the recent murder trial of U.S. State Department special agent Christopher Deedy.

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On Monday, 11 other news organizations and journalism groups filed an additional brief supporting the Star-Advertiser and Hawaii News Now. But they also want the state's highest court to reverse a 35-year-old ruling that the press did not have a First Amendment right to attend court hearings. The amicus brief was filed by the Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest on behalf of Civil Beat, KITV/Hearst Television, KHON, Hawaii Public Radio, Hawaii Reporter, Hawaii Tribune-Herald, West Hawaii Today, Maui Time Weekly, the Hawaii chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, Media Council Hawaii and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

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The Media Council Hawaii is a member of NFOIC. --eds

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