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Sixth Amendment Right to a Speedy and Public Trial

NCJ Number
American Criminal Law Review Volume: 26 Issue: 4 Dated: (Spring 1989) Pages: 1489-1505
N Nicholaidis
Date Published
17 pages
The Sixth Amendment rights to a speedy and public trial were conceived as distinct human protections, but were considered jointly in ancient English and American colonial history and then separately starting in 1974.
Four cases starting in 1948 have established the basic principles regarding the right to a public trial. These decisions have defined both the defendant's rights and the public's right of access to criminal trials under the First Amendment. In 1974, Congress passed the Speedy Trial Act, which established a prosecutorial deadline of 30 days for setting a trial date. Congress has also listed specific exceptions, resulting in flexibility in measuring the speed of proceedings. In the future, the defendant's right to request a private trial is likely to be narrowed further. In addition, the courts are likely to continue to protect the right to a speedy public trial under the Speedy Trial Act. 143 footnotes.