GANNETT CO. v. DEPASQUALE
Two suspects charged with murder, robbery, and grand larceny requested that the public be excluded from a pre-trial hearing concerning the admissibility of evidence. They argued that an "unabated buildup" of adverse publicity had jeopardized their ability to receive a fair trial. The request was granted by the judge, and no objections were made at the time. The judge then denied press access to the pre-trial hearing and refused to immediately release the transcript of the proceedings. The case was argued and decided with Marshall, Secretary of Labor v. American Petroleum Institute et al.
Did the press and members of the public have a constitutional right under the Sixth Amendment to attend the trial?
Legal provision: Amendment 6: Other Sixth Amendment Provisions
The Court held that members of the public had no right to attend criminal trials under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments. The Court noted that judges had "an affirmative constitutional duty" to minimize the effects of prejudicial pretrial publicity, and that closure of pretrial proceedings was an effective method to do so. The Court found that the Sixth Amendment, while granting defendants the right to a public trial, did not imply a public right of access to trials. The Court added that since the suppression of the transcript was only temporary, no violation of the First Amendment had occurred.