A mother’s motion for having the courtroom sealed for one of her witnesses was denied by the New York court for hindering the defendant’s rights. According to a New York Law Journal article published on November 16, 2012, the mother moved to seal the courtroom during a hearing regarding a sexual abuse matter.

The witness claimed to have been sexually abused for three years by her father, from the time she was 10 to the time she was 13. During these years the child kept a diary, which was disposed of during the course of the litigation proceeding. The mother sought to close the courtroom so that the witness may speak openly regarding the diary entries. In turn the defendant moved to have a complete unredacted diary turned over to his attorney for review prior to the witness taking the stand.

Prior to the motion being filed the witness had disposed of the diary. Due to the mother’s inability to turn over the diary the court ruled that the courtroom would not be sealed. The mother made a plea asking for the court to not punish her for the witness’ actions. However, since the witness had been put on notice yet still disposed of the diary the ruling stood.

Specifically the court reasoned that if they sealed the courtroom without the defendant having the diary it would be severely prejudice him. The court concluded that the witness will testify in an open court but is precluded from discussing the diary or its contents until it is produced.

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