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Right of the Press and Public To Attend Criminal Trial Proceedings in Iowa

NCJ Number
Iowa Law Review Volume: 66 Issue: 1 Dated: (October 1980) Pages: 153-186
M Cranberg
Date Published
34 pages
The viewpoint that the public and press have a basis for asserting an independent absolute right of access to criminal proceedings under Iowa law is argued; statutory authority providing the right is highlighted.
This note states that the Iowa Supreme Court should find an absolute right of access under the Iowa constitution for the press and public to attend criminal trial proceedings. Such a finding will promote public interests through ensuring that cases are decided upon complete and truthful records, guarding against bias and corruption in the courtroom by subjecting judges and prosecutors to public scrutiny, and providing information to citizens that will encourage participation in the system. Because the defendant's interest in a fair trial can be protected by means less restrictive of the public's interests than trial closure, the scope of the press and public right should be absolute. Such a finding will be consistent with the common law's long and nearly unbroken history of open trial proceedings. Right of access could be found under Iowa constitution article I, sections 7, 10, or 25. In addition, the history of the Iowa constitution demonstrates that the framers intended many common law traditions, arguably including public trial access. Further, Iowa judicial opinions construing the provisions indicate that policies underlying them are consistent with public right of trial access. Finally, because Iowa Code section 605.16 qualifies the public's right of trial access by conditioning access on defense and prosecutorial consent, the provision should be either judicially overruled or legislatively repealed. Two hundred and eighty-four footnotes are included in the article. (Author abstract modified).