Archive | public trial

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

Circuit Says SDNY Jury Selection Is “Trivial”

United States v. Gupta, No. 09-4738-cr (2d Cir. June 17, 2011) (Walker, Parker, Hall, CJJ)

Anyone who has ever selected a jury in the Southern District knows that the typical voir dire there is a perfunctory affair indeed: a few questions about potential bias, a few about household composition, then you exercise your challenges and open after lunch. Perhaps that’s why the panel majority here held that the exclusion of the entire public for an entire SDNY voir dire was covered by the circuit’s “triviality exception” to the Sixth Amendment right to a public trial.

Before jury selection began at Gupta’s immigration fraud trial, the district court closed the courtroom to the public, preventing – at a minimum – Gupta’s girlfriend and brother from attending. The court acted without notice to the parties and, when later called upon to do so, gave two reasons for the closure: the need to …

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Categories: jury selection, public trial, Uncategorized

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Friday, February 6th, 2009

Structural Failure

Gibbons v. Savage, No. 07-3306-pr (2d Cir. January 28, 2009)(McLaughlin, Leval, Pooler, CJJ).

At Robert Gibbons’ state court trial, the judge closed the courtroom during jury selection, expelling the only spectator, Gibbons’ mother. After exhausting his state court appeals, Gibbons filed a 2254 petition, which the district court dismissed. The circuit affirmed. In doing so, however, it created a new doctrine – the “trivial structural error.”

The circuit agreed that the state judge deprived Gibbons of his Sixth Amendment right to a public trial, because there was indeed a “closure” of the courtroom – the public was “categorically excluded,” and the courtroom was closed to “all spectators” during jury selection

The court also agreed that the Waller v. Georgia, 467 U.S. 39 (1984) test was satisfied. First, there was no “overriding interest” for the closure. Even though the courtroom was small, space could still have been found for a single …

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Categories: public trial, structural error, Uncategorized

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