Published on: Saturday, May 21, 2022

California man charged in gun case was facing trial in September 2020. The trial court adopted COVID restrictions and precluded the public from entering the courtroom and giving access to the proceedings only by streaming audio. Man: objection! This violates my Sixth Amendment right to a public trial because ‘the ability to have the courtroom open is not simply to hear the witnesses but to see the witnesses, to see the jury, to see the defendant, to see the attorneys, see the court,’ but I'll settle for video as an adequate substitute for in-person. Trial court: no, audio only. Man convicted and sentenced to six years in prison. Ninth Circuit: The Constitution required the district court to pivot to video, not just audio, streaming. Conviction vacated and case remanded for a new trial and suppression hearing, either in public or on video.

The case is United States v. James Allen, No. 21-10060 (9th Cir. May 16, 2022).