Attorneys: Judge violated First Amendment by sealing court


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Attorneys say the public’s First Amendment rights were violated after a judge closed the courtroom during a plea hearing for a woman charged with trafficking women from Massachusetts to Rhode Island.

The Providence Journal reports 20-year-old Raechyl Spooner was expected to plead guilty to her role in the trafficking. U.S. District Court Judge Mary Lisi sealed the courtroom on April 28, ordering the lawyer for one of her suspected accomplices, Olin Thompson, and everyone else to leave.

Thompson and federal prosecutors both objected saying the order violated the First Amendment right of the public to attend court hearings.

Lisi agreed to delay the hearing to June 12 and consider motions on the closing.

Thompson’s client, Kemont Bowie, has also agreed to plead out.

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