A closed hearing was held on October 4th: The parties have agreed the pretrial hearings/oral arguments scheduled for October 4, 2013 and October 18, 2013 should be closed to the public. The court finds an open proceeding for these pretrial hearings presents a clear and present threat to the due administration of justice, specifically the right of the parties to a fair penalty phase trial by an impartial jury. The court finds there is a compelling interest that overcomes the right of public access, specifically, there is a substantial probability that publication of information provided during these court hearings (through evidence or argument) could taint the jury pool and significantly impact the parties’ ability to effectively present matters at trial. The court also finds that, in light of the intense media coverage of this case, there is no less restrictive means to achieve these compelling interests.
It is unclear what this hearing was about, perhaps pending motions, such as barring live TV coverage, disclosing and actively monitoring jurors’ social media accounts, and a change of venue.
A settlement conference is scheduled for next Friday, October 18th.