The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Monday held that the District Court for the Northern District of California’s COVID-19 protocols violated defendant James David Allen II’s Sixth Amendment right to a public trial. In 2020, the district court prohibited the public from attending Allen’s suppression hearing and trial “and rejected his request for video-streaming of the proceedings,” allowing only audio access.
Allen’s counsel originally argued at a hearing that neither audio nor video streaming of the trial was equivalent to an in-person trial.” However, Allen accepted “video as ‘an adequate substitute’ for public access because it ‘comes closer to recapturing that in-person experience more so than telephone.’”
The Ninth Circuit found that a defendant’s right to a public trial is “impaired by a rule that precludes the public from observing a trial in person, regardless whether the public has access to a transcript or audio stream.” The panel concluded

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