My colleague Tony Thornton had an interesting story in yesterday’s paper about one of the district judges in Rogers County closing his courtroom to the public.
Apparently, a sign has been up for the last few years advising the public that only defendants and their attorneys are allowed in the courtroom. But it’s not just a sign. Deputies have told people to leave the courtroom if they weren’t involved in a case, claiming “space constraints” in the small courtroom. So much for open trials.
The law allows judges to close their courtrooms only in certain types of cases or circumstances, including adoption, juvenile, mental health or guardianship cases. But for everything else, the standard is an open courtroom.
Funnily enough, when alerted to the sign by a reporter, the presiding judge in that district had it removed.
For more on secret justice and closed records across the country, check out the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
Written by Paul Monies