In Alabama, in order for a presumptively open criminal proceeding to be closed, a court must make “specific, on-the-record findings demonstrating that closure is essential to preserve higher values and the closure order is narrowly tailored to serve those interests.” Ex parte Birmingham News Co., 624 So. 2d 1117, 1125 (Ala. Crim. App. 1993).
The Louisiana Supreme Court ordered a motion to suppress hearing closed on the defendant’s motion, over a vigorous dissent by then-Justice Dennis (who now serves on the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals), in State v. Birdsong, 422 So.2d 1135 (La. 1982). The Court held that, to justify closing a pre-trial hearing, the defendant “should only have to show a reasonable likelihood of substantial prejudice to his right to a fair trial.” Id. at 1136 (emphasis in original).
Where a constitutional presumption of access applies, the court may close proceedings only after making specific, on-the-record findings: (1) that closure is necessary to further a compelling governmental interest; (2) the closure order is narrowly tailored to serve that interest; and (3) that no less restrictive means are available to adequately protect that interest. Press-Enterprise Co. v. Superior Court (Press-Enterprise II), 478 U.S. 1, 13-14 (1986); see also Press-Enterprise Co. v. Superior Court (Press-Enterprise I), 464 U.S.