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Judge is silent on closed hearing

Media organizations protested, but a Prince William County judge has not commented on the closing of a key hearing for a 17-year-old charged with capital murder.

According to Inside Nova, the News & Messenger, along with the Washington Post and WJLA/News Channel 8, sent Judge Janice J. Wellington a letter in March, protesting her decision.

Virginia law states that juvenile court proceedings should be open to the public when the defendant is over the age of 14 and is charged with offenses that would be felonies if committed by an adult. The judge can close the case for a “good cause,” but must state the reasons in writing as part of the public record.

In this particular case, no written statement was made and calls to Wellington seeking response have not been returned.

2 comments

  1. I have heard a number of reports recently of circuit court judges inappropriately closing their courtrooms to the public when the proceedings might be embarassing to important people. Unfortunately, there are very few litigants who have the courage to annoy the judge by insisting on an open courtroom when the judge doesn’t want one. It’s a shame that too many lawyers think angering a judge is an unacceptable risk when insisting on constitutional and statutory protections for their clients.

  2. I have heard a number of reports recently of circuit court judges inappropriately closing their courtrooms to the public when the proceedings might be embarassing to important people. Unfortunately, there are very few litigants who have the courage to annoy the judge by insisting on an open courtroom when the judge doesn’t want one. It’s a shame that too many lawyers think angering a judge is an unacceptable risk when insisting on constitutional and statutory protections for their clients.

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