WA Supreme Court: Go Read the Coggins Case, We're Deciding Nothing New Here Re: Public Trial Rights
Seriously, you should read Coggins first. Okay, have you read it? Good, because I’m not going to recap how similar these two cases are.
Speight is a little different in that there was also the question as to whether Motions in Limine are subject to a public trial analysis. Here, Chief Justice Madsen would hold they are not.
The other 8 justices skirt the issue, both on issues of justiciability. The lead opinion states that because their was a closure with the voir dire, it need not decide if a second closure happened with the motions in liming. If there was a closure, the appellant would still need to show actual and substantial prejudice, which he did not.
The dissent claims that any closure would be prejudicial, and since there was a closure with the voir dire, then there is no need to reach whether there was a second prejudicial closure. They’re both right, and the majority errs on the side of not reaching issues it need not address.
So here’s the breakdown, we still don’t know if holding motions in limine in chambers amounts to a violation of a public trial right or not. Best to hold them in open court.
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