Tuesday, May 24, 2011

State high court makes clear that contempt proceedings against jurors must be public

In a ruling that could clear up what it called "continuing confusion" among Kentucky judges, the state Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that criminal contempt-of-court hearings for jurors must be open to the public.

The court ruled that Susan Schultz Gibson, a circuit judge in Jefferson County, "should have allowed the public and media access to a contempt-of-court hearing for a juror" whom she suspected of violating her order to avoid publicity about the case last year, Jason Riley wrote for The Courier-Journal. He and the newspaper were the plaintiffs in the case.

"The ruling overturns a state Court of Appeals ruling that found the issue was moot, since the case was over and no one was asking for the hearing to be held again," Riley wrote. "The high court, however, said the issue must be settled so it does not reoccur." The newspaper's attorney, Jon Fleischaker, told Riley, “It's an important decision for the precise reason we were concerned it could happen again.” (Read more)

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