Case Number: C-16-CR-23-001720
Court: Circuit Court for Prince George’s County, Maryland
Clients: Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the Associated Press, Gannett Co., Inc., Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association, NBCUniversal Media LLC, Sinclair, Inc., The Washington Post, and TEGNA Inc.
Motion to Intervene Filed: Jan. 26, 2024
Background: In May 2023, prosecutors in Prince George’s County, Maryland, charged 15-year-old Kaden Holland with attempted murder and other offenses after he allegedly forced his way onto a school bus and tried to shoot a middle school student in the head. The incident happened at a time when the Washington, D.C., region is grappling with a sharp increase in juvenile crime. Holland has also been charged with a related homicide in D.C.
Maryland prosecutors charged Holland as an adult, but his attorney requested to have the case heard in juvenile court instead. Because Holland is a minor, his attorney also filed a motion seeking to bar the press and public from a February 2024 hearing at which the court will decide whether to send the case to juvenile court.
On Jan. 23, 2024, Judge Michael Whalen of the Prince George’s County Circuit Court invited news organizations to express their opposition to the defense’s motion.
On behalf of a coalition of media organizations, attorneys for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed a motion to intervene in the case to oppose Holland’s attempt to seal the hearing. Among other things, the media coalition argues that the First Amendment and the Maryland Declaration of Rights guarantee presumptive public access to criminal proceedings, including where juveniles are tried as adults.
Quote: “[D]rawing a veil of secrecy around the hearing would violate the press and public’s First Amendment right of access to judicial proceedings, badly undermining the public’s ability to understand a case that has become ‘a symbol of rising juvenile crime in the D.C. area’ and sparked extensive debate on issues of core public concern,” Reporters Committee attorneys argued in a brief in support of the media coalition’s motion to intervene to oppose the sealing of the hearing.