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'Jena 6' court records to be opened, judge rules

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  1. Court Access
A Louisiana judge ruled on Friday that a host of court documents in the high-profile, racially-charged "Jena Six" case should be given…

A Louisiana judge ruled on Friday that a host of court documents in the high-profile, racially-charged "Jena Six" case should be given to the news media, the Associated Press reported.

"We’re supposed to tell the government what to do, and that’s hard to do when they’re trying to hide so much," said District Judge Thomas Yeager, who in 2007 made the same ruling on the documents, according to the AP, only to have that decision suspended by another judge, J.P. Mauffray Jr.

Eventually, yet another judge found that it was not in fact Maufray’s decision to close Bell’s court proceedings to the public.

Donald Wilson for the LaSalle Parish district attorney’s office argued that "only trial and post-trial material was open in a juvenile case involving a crime," the AP said, leaving out pretrial hearings and motions.  But attorney Mary Ellen Roy, representing the media, maintained that "all material and hearings are open when a juvenile is charged with a violent crime," in the wire service’s words.

Bell was the only one of six black Jena High School students to plead guilty to juvenile battery charges stemming from an attack on a white classmate.  He served 18 months behind bars, the AP said.