Skip to content

Dentist asks court to exclude media from abuse trial

Post categories

  1. Court Access
A California dentist on trial for allegedly fondling more than a dozen patients has moved to exclude the press from…

A California dentist on trial for allegedly fondling more than a dozen patients has moved to exclude the press from the entirety of his trial, the Sacramento Bee reports.

Michael Rothschild, attorney for defendant Mark Anderson, filed a one-sentence motion asking the court to “exclude all media from all trial proceedings, including but not limited to jury selection, opening statement and witness testimony, in this matter.”

The First Amendment and California law strictly limit exclusion of the press and the public from court proceedings. For example, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Press-Enterprise Co. v. Superior Court that a court may close proceedings in a criminal case only after making specific, on-the-record findings that closure is necessary to further a compelling governmental interest, that the closure order is narrowly tailored to serve that interest, and that no less-restrictive means are available to adequately protect that interest.

But access to Anderson’s case has been limited before. The Bee reports that Anderson’s lawyer privately arranged with Commissioner Janene Beronio to delay Anderson’s arraignment, and the court failed to place the new date on its public calendar. Thus, Anderson’s family and hundreds of supporters attended his arraignment, but alleged victims did not.

The story had a familiar ring in Sacramento. Last year, Commissioner Beronio presided over an arraignment in which Yolo County sheriff’s deputies locked the press and the public out of the arraignment of the man accused of murdering a sheriff’s deputy, allowing only the victim’s family and law enforcement officers to fill the courtroom. That incident led California Senate majority leader Gloria Romero to request that the California Rules of Court be rewritten to specifically prohibit such behavior.