Friday, November 16, 2007

Jena Six Trials to be Held in Open Court

Shawn Williams of the AfroSpear's Dallas South blog brings our attention to an important development in the Jena Six case, reported by the Chicago Tribune's Howard Witt: "Judge backpedals, opens Jena trial to public, but jurist won't allow access to preliminary hearings." It's clear that AfroSpear advocacy is having an effect on the transparency of criminal court proceedings for at least a few Black young people:
Replying to a lawsuit filed by a coalition of U.S. media companies, the judge overseeing the trial of Mychal Bell, one of the teenage defendants in the racially charged Jena 6 case in Louisiana, reversed course Thursday and agreed to open Bell's upcoming juvenile trial to the public.

But LaSalle Parish District Judge J.P. Mauffray, in a court filing, maintained that he is not required to open pre-trial hearings in Bell's case to the news media or the public, and he argued that the media lawsuit seeking full access to Bell's case should be dismissed.

The lawsuit, initiated by the Chicago Tribune and joined by the Associated Press, The New York Times Co., CNN and other major media organizations, asserts that Mauffray's earlier decision to close all the proceedings in Bell's case runs counter to Louisiana juvenile laws and provisions of both the Louisiana and U.S. Constitutions. More at the Chicago Tribune.


Anonymous said...

Mychal Bell's trial as an adult in connection with the Jena Six beating incident was open to the public. The prosecution will probably call the same witnesses in his retrial as a juvenil as it did during the first trial. The major difference is that the news media suit also asks that Bell record of juvenile offenses and conviction also be released. This is something that Jena residents who think Bell belongs in jail have long advocated.

Francis L. Holland Blog said...

Well, for once we agree on something - that the trial should be held in open court.