Mandatory closure during the testimony of minor victims of sex-offense crimes violates the public’s First Amendment right of access to criminal trials. Whether a trial court should close the courtroom during minor testimony must be analyzed on a case-by-case basis in which the trial court weighs the minor victim’s age, psychological maturity and understanding, the nature of the crime, the desires of the victim, and the interests of parents and relatives. SeeGlobe Newspaper Co. v. Super. Ct., 457 U.S. 596, 607 (1982); see also Bell v. Jarvis, 236 F.3d 149 (4th Cir. 2000) (order closing courtroom during minor’s testimony violated the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to a public trial).
Under Pennsylvania law, in a prosecution involving a child victim of sexual or physical abuse, the name of the child victim shall not be disclosed by officers or employees of the court to the public, and any records revealing the name of the child victim shall not be open to public inspection, unless the court orders otherwise. Violation of this section is a misdemeanor of the second degree. 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5988. This does not prohibit the press from publishing the name of the child victim; it only prohibits officers or employees of the court from disclosing the name of the child victim.
See State v. Roders, 125 Wis. 2d 572, 373 N.W.2d 85 (Wis. App. 1985) (unpublished) (Court did not abuse its discretion when it denied the defendant’s request to exclude the parents of minor victims from the courtroom during a criminal trial); see also State v. G.B., 204 Wis. 2d 108, 552 N.W.2d 897 (Ct. App. 1996) (unpublished).