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National Crime Victim Law Institute

United States. v. Mitchell, No. 2:08CR125DAK, 2010 WL 4386915 (D. Utah Oct. 29, 2010) (slip copy).

November 17, 2010

In the initial stages of a high profile case in which defendant is accused of the kidnapping and sexual assault of a child, the court, inter alia, devised a plan to accommodate the media’s heightened interest in the voir dire proceedings.  Noting the broad public interest, the sensitive nature of the case, and courtroom space limitations, the court found it necessary to limit the number of media representatives and members of the public that would be allowed to attend the voir dire proceedings in person.  The court found that supplying a video and audio feed of the proceedings would be sufficient for all others.  In outlining the details of its plan, the court, sua sponte, stated that the victim’s family would be allowed to be present in the courtroom during the voir dire proceedings.  The court noted that that under the Crime Victims Rights Act (CVRA), 18 U.S.C. § 3771, victims are generally allowed to be present at all proceedings, and, given the number of sensitive issues relevant to the voir dire necessary in this case, “[the court’s plan was] intended to balance the interests of the public, the victim, and the parties.”