Skip to content

Blades v. United States

Post categories

  1. Court Access

The Reporters Committee and 17 other organizations filed an amicus brief in Blades v. United States in support of a criminal defendant’s petition for rehearing or rehearing en banc before the DC Court of Appeals.  In this case, the trial judge used a white noise machine (also called a “husher”) to deliberately shield all individual jurors’ answers to questions during voir dire. A panel of the DC Court of Appeals held that the use of a husher was not a courtroom closure because the public was permitted to remain in the courtroom and see (but not hear) what was going on, and transcripts of the voir dire were available after the fact. The amicus brief argues that the use of a husher to prevent the public and the press from hearing the jury selection process violates the First Amendment’s right of access to the courts and impairs the ability of the press and the public to be informed of the workings of the justice system.