Court Accused Of Blocking Public Access To Trials Amid Virus
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Law360 (June 29, 2020, 11:30 AM EDT) — A California court is violating the First Amendment by placing undue restrictions on the public for accessing judicial proceedings during the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Civil Liberties Unionhas alleged in California federal court.
It should not be up to members of the press or the general public to demonstrate “good cause” for accessing civil and criminal proceedings conducted by Kern County Superior Court, the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California alleged Friday in a complaint filed with the Eastern District of California.
The court has restricted even family members from attending in-person proceedings, and has denied members of the public the ability to remotely observe matters being conducted through video, according to the complaint.
Kern County Superior Court should follow the example of other counties in the state by providing alternative ways for the public to access court proceedings, such as by providing publicly available call-in numbers, according to the complaint.
“A cornerstone of our democracy is that we do not conduct secret prosecutions,” the complaint reads. “Defendants are currently doing just that.”
The case is American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California et al. v. Harber-Pickens et al., case number 1:20-cv-00889, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.
–Editing by Rebecca Flanagan.
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