|NMU||CONNECTICUT||Secret Courts||Mar 29, 2000|
Judge allows public access to Skakel ‘juvenile’ trial
- A judge allows the media and the public to attend the arraignment on murder charges of Michael Skakel, even though he was a juvenile when the crime was allegedly committed.
Explaining that the current age of the defendant eliminated any concern about maintaining his confidentiality, the state court judge presiding over the murder trial of a member of the Kennedy family allowed the public to attend the defendant’s arraignment even though the charges relate to an alleged crime committed while the defendant was a juvenile.
“Due to the respondent’s age, the underlying rationale of the confidentiality provision which would strongly apply in other juvenile matters is inapplicable here,” Stamford Superior Court Judge Maureen Dennis wrote in granting the motion for access to the arraignment of Michael Skakel filed by The Associated Press, The New York Times, The Hartford Courant, Newsday, The Advocate of Stamford and Greenwich Time. Her ruling allowed members of the public to fill the 46-seat courtroom for the March 24 hearing, which lasted only seven minutes.
The media outlets had argued that Skakel waived his juvenile confidentiality rights given his current age and his the decision of his lawyer, Michael Sherman, to make public the pending charges against him, according to the Associated Press. Sherman filed an affidavit last month stating that neither he nor his client objecting to allowing the public to attend the proceedings, according to the AP.
Skakel is the nephew of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. He is charged with murdering his 15-year-old Greenwich neighbor Martha Moxley in 1975, when he was also 15.
(Connecticut v. Skakel; Media Counsel: David Fein, Stamford)
© 2000 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press