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A. In general

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  • 4th Circuit

    The public has a qualified right of access under the First Amendment to criminal trials and certain pretrial proceedings. In re S.C. Press Ass'n, 946 F.2d 1037, 1041 (4th Cir. 1991); In re Charlotte Observer, 882 F.2d 850, 852 (4th Cir. 1989).

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  • Pennsylvania

    The public’s right of access to criminal proceedings is embodied in both the United States Constitution and the Pennsylvania Constitution. SeeU.S. Const. amend. I; Pa. Const. art. I., §11 (“All courts shall be open.”); Commonwealth v. Upshur, 924 A.2d 642, 647 n.5 (Pa. 2007) (“[T]his Court has recognized a presumption of openness stemming from Article I, Sections 9 and 11 of our State Constitution, which provide that an accused has the right to a ‘speedy, public trial’ and that ‘all courts shall be open.’”); Commonwealth v. Curley, --- A.3d ----, 2018 Pa. Super. LEXIS 599, at *8-9 (June 4, 2018) (“‘It is well settled that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and Article I, Sections 7 and 11 of the Pennsylvania Constitution secure a general right of public access to criminal proceedings, as well as to judicial records’” (quoting Commonwealth v. Selenski, 996 A.2d 494, 496-97 (Pa. Super. 2010)).

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  • Vermont

    Unlike access to court records, there is no comprehensive rule or statute governing public access to court proceedings in Vermont. However, the Vermont Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized the “generally accepted practice as well as the public’s constitutional and common law right of access to court records and proceedings.”  State v. Tallman, 148 Vt. 465, 472, 537 A.2d 422, 427 (Vt. 1987); see also Herald Ass’n v. Ellison, 138 Vt. 529, 533-534, 419 A.2d 323, 326, (Vt. 1980) (noting that, in Vermont, public judicial proceedings are the rule and closed ones the exception).  The Vermont Supreme Court has recognized that criminal trials historically have been open to the public in their entirety, “resulting in a strong presumption in favor of openness.”  State v. Favreau, 173 Vt. 636, 638, 800 A.2d 472, 474 (Vt. 2002); see also State v. Nutbrown-Covey, 2017 VT 26, ¶ 20, n.3, 204 Vt. 363, 373 (Vt. 2017) (“the public and the press have a protected First Amendment right of access to most stages of a criminal trial”).  The Vermont Supreme Court has applied the two-part test developed by the United States Supreme Court for determining whether the First Amendment right of accessto criminal proceedings attaches to a particular proceeding.  State v. LaBounty, 167 Vt. 25, 29, 702 A.2d 82, 85 (Vt. 1997) (citing Press-Enterprise Co. v. Superior Court, 478 U.S. 1, 8 (1986)).  Under this test, the qualified right attaches if, first, “the place and process have historically been open to the press and general public,” and second, “public access plays a significant positive role in the functioning of the particular process in question.”  LaBounty, 167 Vt. at 29, 702 A.2d at 85.

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