A state appeals court says the judge presiding over the Cary Stayner murder trial wrongly excluded the public and the media from the courtroom on July 15th.
To make room for potential panelists during jury selection, judge Thomas Hastings briefly emptied the San Jose courtroom and continued court proceedings in the absence of news organizations and the public.
The case was brought by The Associated Press and other news outlets. They argued that Hastings violated the public´s right to access court proceedings. The state Sixth District Court of Appeal today agreed.
Stayner faces the death penalty if convicted of murdering three sightseers in February 1999 near Yosemite National Park. The case was moved to San Jose from Mariposa County because of publicity.