WA Legal Roundup - Washington State Supreme Court
Seriously, how many opinions did the reporters office release today? I'm starting to cramp!
The court closed Momah's voir dire in order to preserve an impartial jury. Momah, if you recall, was accused of sexually violating his patients while working on their bajingos.
Needless to say, the case got more than a little publicity. Thus, each juror had the potential to taint the pool in voir dire:
A list of jurors to be individually questioned was then selected, and defense counsel agreed with this list. The group of jurors questioned in-chambers included three general categories: (1) people who indicated prior knowledge about the case, (2) people who asked for private questioning, or (3) people who said they could not be fair.
Because the court narrowly tailored the public aspect in order to make sure it didn't violate the impartial jury aspect, the trial court did good. Honestly, had it not done something, the right to impartiality would have been thrown out the window. If you're looking for the law:
The presumption in favor of openness may be overcome by an overriding interest based on findings that closure is essential to preserve higher values and narrowly tailored to serve that interest. Thus, the court may close a courtroom under certain circumstances.
As always with closures, make sure to apply your Bone-Club factors.