Is NH Violating a Defendant’s Right to a Public Trial?
Criminal cases do not come to a halt because of a pandemic, and criminal courts throughout the United States have been finding solutions to prevent delays. Courts in Austin recently held the first criminal trial entirely by Zoom, for example.
Courts in New Hampshire have been holding trials in court since August, but for social distancing purposes, the courtroom has been closed to the public. Instead, the courts have been live-streaming jury trials online for the public to watch.
Now, however, the New Hampshire Superior Court announced a change in this live-streaming policy. Moving forward, the testimony of victims will not be live-streamed unless the victim consents. This is based on victims’ advocates stating that many crime victims might not testify if they knew the trial was being live-streamed.
While victim protection is certainly important, all criminal defendants have the right to a public trial under the Sixth Amendment. Courts plan to have limited seats open for a few people to attend each trial, though this is not necessarily enough to uphold the defendant’s constitutional rights or the public’s right to access jury trials. In addition, it gives accusers the power to decide how public a defendant’s trial will actually be.
Moving forward, we will stay apprised of any new developments regarding criminal jury trials in the time of COVID-19, and we evaluate how new procedures will impact our clients’ cases.
Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Bedford
Bedford criminal defense attorney Shawn P. Sweeney represents clients in all stages of the criminal process, and the right representation is especially critical in these unprecedented times. We can help identify defenses against your charges, advise you on your legal options, and represent you in court if you fight your charges at trial. Contact us online or call 888.339.9862 for help today.