D. Post-trial proceedings

Overview

The Supreme Court has not addressed the right of access to post-trial proceedings, though then-Judge Anthony Kennedy extended the presumption of access to post-trial proceedings and records because he saw “no principled basis for affording greater confidentiality to post-trial documents and proceedings than is given to pretrial matters. The primary justifications for access to criminal proceedings … apply with as much force to post-conviction proceedings as to the trial itself.” CBS, Inc. v. U.S. Dist. Court, 765 F.2d 823, 825 (9th Cir. 1985). Other appellate courts followed suit. In U.S. v. Soussoudis, 807 F.2d 383, 389 (4th Cir. 1986), for example, the court found that the First Amendment right of access extends to plea hearings and sentencing hearings, noting that “[b]ecause the taking of a guilty plea serves as a substitute for a trial, it may reasonably be treated in the same manner as a trial for First Amendment purposes. Sentencing may also be viewed as within the scope of the criminal trial itself.” The court added that “even if plea hearings and sentencing hearings are not considered a part of the trial itself, they are surely as much an integral part of a criminal prosecution as are preliminary probable-cause hearings, suppression hearings, or bail hearings, all of which have been held to be subject to the public’s First Amendment right of access.”

6th Cir.