Thursday, March 29, 2007

No Right of Access to Show-Cause Hearings

The SJC issued an opinion in Eagle-Tribune Publishing Company v. Clerk Magistrate of the Lawrence Division of the District Court Department  yesterday. In this case, the court held that a show-cause hearing need not be open to the public. The proceeding is held primarily for the benefit of the accused, and often serves as informal dispute resolution for minor crimes. In applying the two-part test of "experience" and "logic", the court held that " there is no tradition of public access to this type of proceeding," and "public access would not significantly aid their functioning."

More information on access to various court proceedings is available in Guidelines on the Public's Right of Access to Judicial Proceedings and Records, put out by the Supreme Judicial Court in 2000.