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R. Kelly judge halts pretrial access

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  1. Court Access
The Chicago judge hearing the child pornography case against R&B singer R. Kelly told media intervenors Thursday that they would have…

The Chicago judge hearing the child pornography case against R&B singer R. Kelly told media intervenors Thursday that they would have access to sealed pretrial documents and hearing transcripts "as soon as the trial is over."

The Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and the Associate Press filed an emergency motion in Cook County court arguing a First Amendment right to the pretrial records and proceedings, but Judge Vincent Gaughan said this was not an emergency and instead scheduled a hearing on the matter for May 8, stating that tomorrow’s hearing would remain sealed, as planned.

Speculation about the subject matter of these closed hearings — tomorrow’s will be the fourth this month — surrounds the issue of whether the judge will allow evidence of other crimes or bad acts before the jury. But  the judge has sealed the hearings, related records and also placed a gag order on the attorneys in the case, so the public and the press have been unable to substantiate these reports.

Damon Dunn, the attorney for the media intervenors, said it seems as though the judge is shielding the jury pool from what may ultimately be inadmissible evidence. He said while these pretrial aspects of the case have been sealed from the public, statements by the judge indicate that the trial itself will be open to the public.

Dunn said the judge issued four "decorum orders" prior to today’s hearing setting forth his policies for the media. "He is clearly anticipating a public trial because there are all sorts of rules," he said.