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Judge will open Jena trial to public but won’t allow access to preliminary hearings

With much of the last few days of publicity regarding the Jena 6 being the controversy regarding fundraising and how money has been spent, there's not been enough focus on the upcoming trial of Mychal Bell. Here's an update from the Chicago Tribune…



By Howard Witt | Tribune senior correspondent

9:08 PM CST, November 15, 2007

HOUSTON - Replying to a lawsuit filed by a coalition of U.S. media companies, the judge overseeing the trial of Mychal Bell, one of the teenage defendants in the racially charged Jena 6 case in Louisiana, reversed course Thursday and agreed to open Bell's upcoming juvenile trial to the public.

But LaSalle Parish District Judge J.P. Mauffray, in a court filing, maintained that he is not required to open pre-trial hearings in Bell's case to the news media or the public, and he argued that the media lawsuit seeking full access to Bell's case should be dismissed.

The lawsuit, initiated by the Chicago Tribune and joined by the Associated Press, The New York Times Co., CNN and other major media organizations, asserts that Mauffray's earlier decision to close all the proceedings in Bell's case runs counter to Louisiana juvenile laws and provisions of both the Louisiana and U.S. Constitutions.