By: Joe Strupp
In what the Chicago Tribune termed “a rare show of unity between competitors,” the Trib and the Chicago Sun-Times have filed a joint motion seeking all court records related to the upcoming trial of R&B star R. Kelly.
“The emergency motion requests that Judge Vincent Gaughan make all Kelly-related court records public, release transcripts of several secret hearings, and lift the gag order on the attorneys involved in the upcoming trial,” Tribune reported. “Gaughan has been holding discussions with lawyers behind closed doors for months, usually in the privacy of his chambers.”
Kelly, 41, faces a child pornography charge for allegedly videotaping himself having sex with a minor girl. He has pleaded not guilty. Jury selection is set to begin May 9.
The newspapers hope to have their arguments heard before another closed-door hearing Friday, the paper reported.
“The right [to access court records] is essential to the public’s right to monitor the functioning of our courts, thereby insuring quality, honesty and respect for our legal system,” the motion states, according to the Tribune. “Particularly during pre-trial criminal proceedings, the absence of a jury, long recognized as an inestimable safeguard against the corrupt or overzealous prosecutor and against the compliant, biased or eccentric judge, makes the importance of public access … even more significant.”
Earlier this month, the judge ordered the courtroom cleared of reporters, spectators and one of Kelly’s bodyguards, the paper reported, stating, “The sheriff’s deputies then directed reporters to stand about 15 yards away from the locked entrance as they stood guard.”
The judge has placed a gag order on attorneys from both sides, barring them from discussing substantive matters with reporters, the Tribune reported, adding: “The lack of information means that with the trial scheduled to begin next month, little is known about legal maneuverings in the nationally prominent case.”