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News media barred from court proceedings in juvenile case

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    NMU         VIRGINIA         Secret Courts         Nov 18, 1999    

News media barred from court proceedings in juvenile case

  • Members of the news media were unable to follow proceedings in the case of two 10-year-old boys who allegedly put soap in their teacher’s water due to a state judge’s decision to close the courtroom and gag the parties.

An Arlington juvenile court judge in mid-November shut the media out of a pretrial hearing held in her courtroom and ordered the parties and their attorneys not to discuss the case with the news media, according to The Washington Post.

The case involves two 10-year-old students who allegedly put soap in their teacher’s drinking water and are now being charged with attempting to kill or injure their teacher, according to the Post.

Rutherford Institute attorney Patrick N. Anderson, who represents the two boys, said that he supports the decision of Juvenile Court Judge Esther Wiggins to close her courtroom. In addition to the news media, one of the boy’s stepfathers did not make it into the courtroom before the doors were closed, according to the Post.

Anderson said that trial on the charges has been set for Dec. 21.

The students are charged with placing an alcohol-based liquid gel soap in the water bottle of Michael D. Searles, their fifth-grade teacher at Arlington’s Randolph Elementary School, according to the Post. Randolph’s principal had suspended the boys for three days and had ordered them to do community service, but Searles pressed for charges to be brought against the two boys, according to the Post.

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© 1999 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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