Q&A: Is pre-trial hearing open to media?

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From the Palladium-Item (Richmond):

Q: If a pre-trial hearing is conducted in chambers is the media allowed to cover it? 

A: The courts have taken the position that the pre-trial conference between judge and attorneys is not a formal court proceeding, which would be held in the courtroom, recorded for the record and open to the public.

They consider it an informal administrative process so the judge and attorneys can work out details as to how much time will be needed for the trial, what dates will accommodate everyone’s schedule, what motions are expected to be filed, whether the judge wants oral arguments on motions or just briefs, etc.

So the answer is no, don’t expect to be allowed to sit in.

But it doesn’t hurt to ask – there’s nothing to prevent the judge from allowing you to sit in on the discussion.

It would make a good story as to how a trial moves forward from filing of the lawsuit (civil action) or filing or charges by the state (criminal action).

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.

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