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Protecting the Rape Victim Through Mandatory Closure Statutes: Is It Constitutional?

NCJ Number
New York Law School Law Review Volume: 32 Issue: 1 Dated: (1987) Pages: 111-136
S Puder
Date Published
26 pages
This note considers the conflicting interests involved when the press and public are excluded from the courtroom during the testimony of a rape victim.
After examining the legal system's impact on the rape victim, this note explores the historical reasons for constitutionally mandating a public trial in criminal cases. It then analyzes the U.S. Supreme Court's interpretation of the constitutionality of a mandatory closure statute. The note argues that the unique traumatic impact of the trial on the rape victim and the seriousness of the crime warrant trial procedures that protect the victim from further emotional damage and encourage the reporting of such crimes. A mandatory closure statute would meet these ends by allowing the victim to avoid the humiliation of testifying before the public and the press. Such a statute would not compromise the constitutional guarantees contained in the sixth and first amendments, which protect the rights of the defendant and the public. The public and the press could be present during all the trial proceedings except the testimony of the rape victim. The testimony would still be subject to public scrutiny through public access to the complete trial transcript. 199 footnotes.