Thursday, November 2nd, 2006

Yet Another Courtroom Closure Case

Yung v. Walker, Docket No. 03-3023-pr (2d Cir. Oct. 31, 2006) (Pooler, Sotomayor, Kaplan): This is but the most recent iteration of a long and tedious line of habeas cases in which the petitioner claims that his Sixth Amendment public trial right was violated when the New York state trial judge, at the prosecutor’s request, closed the courtroom during the testimony of an undercover police officer at petitioner’s trial for drug selling. The very sweet District Judge granted Yung’s petition, finding that the state failed to offer sufficient justification to support the exclusion of Yung’s mother, baby-mother, and “sister-in-law” (what does one call the sister of one’s baby-mother?) from the courtroom during the undercover’s testimony. The Circuit agrees with this conclusion, but generously remands in order to allow the state trial court to conduct — 12 years after the original event — a new hearing to determine whether closure was warranted. Those interested in the whys and hows will have to consult the fascinating opinion themselves. See Op.19-22.

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