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Closing the courtroom under 54.08 Login/Join 
We have a very high profile dog torture/death case going on in our county. At this point, both prosecution and the defense attorneys agree that for the safety of the juveniles, as well as the rest of us, the courtroom needs to be closed. That would seem to be enough for "good cause shown" to keep the public out of the courtroom. However, does "public" include the press? If the press continues to run the stories it's been running, we may never be able to find enough objective jurors.

Our judge will not close the courtroom without caselaw indicating that she may do that.

Posts: 7 | Location: Waxahachie, TX | Registered: September 11, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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TFC 54.08 allows the trial court to close the courtroom to the public.

A prior version of that law was upheld in Dendy v. Wilson, 179 S.W.2d 269, 274 (TEX. 1944)("The law also authorizes the trial court to exclude the general public from a hearing of any case, if it thinks proper to do so. This saves the minor from embarrassment, and also permits the court to avoid the publicity that often surrounds the trial of a case. Since the proceedings under this Act must be governed largely by rules governing civil actions, the trial court did not err in excluding the general public from the trial.") overruled on other grounds, Ex parte Shorthouse, 640 S.W.2d 924, 927-28 (Tex.Crim.App. 1982) (statutes that conflict with the Texas Constitution are void).
Regarding the press you might look at In re R.A.G., 866 S.W.2d 199, 200 (Tex. 1993) (Doggett, J., concurring) ("Today's opinion should not, therefore, be read as a comment on the propriety of excluding the public from such hearings nor on the constitutionality of section 54.08 of the Texas Family Code. See, e.g., Susan S. Greenebaum, Conditional Access to Juvenile Court Proceedings: A Prior Restraint or a Viable Solution?, 44 J. Urban & Contemp.L. 135, 161 (1993) (�The policy arguments for keeping juvenile proceedings [confidential] are laudable.... [but] the public has a right to know about crimes committed by juvenile offenders."); State ex rel. Oregonian Publishing Co. v. Deiz, 289 Or. 277, 613 P.2d 23, 27 (1980) (noting that "the public has a right of access co-extensive with the press," in finding unconstitutional the application of a statute to exclude the press from juvenile proceedings).

29 TEX PRACTICE Juvenile Law And Practice sec. 213 ("closing any courtroom is probably unconstitutional.")
Posts: 527 | Location: Fort Worth, Texas, | Registered: May 23, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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