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Press groups move to intervene in secret trial

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  1. Court Access
A coalition of news media organizations on Tuesday moved to intervene in a case where an entire trial was held…

A coalition of news media organizations on Tuesday moved to intervene in a case where an entire trial was held in secret. The case, a civil lawsuit against the federal government, stems from the beating death of Jewish Defense League activist Earl Krugel at the hands of a white supremacist while in federal custody.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson last month ordered reporters and the public to leave the courtroom, conducting the whole trial behind closed doors in an attempt to keep secret various Bureau of Prisons strategies for identifying members of white supremacist gangs. Even the court’s opinion is sealed.

On Tuesday, four media groups – the Los Angeles Times, The Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association, and The Reporters Committee – moved to intervene and unseal court documents and trial transcripts. “While any infringement of the public’s constitutional right of access is inappropriate,” the groups argued, “the holding of a secret trial and the sealing of court records concerning substantive court rulings is almost impossible to justify.”

The media coalition was represented by Kelli L. Sager, Alonzo Wickers IV, and Jeff Glasser, of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP in Los Angeles.