United States v. Valenti

987 F.2d 708 (1993)

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United States v. Valenti

United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
987 F.2d 708 (1993)

LJ

Facts

The Middle District of Florida maintained a dual court-docketing system for its criminal cases. The dual docket consisted of one court docket with matters open to the public and a second court docket with matters closed to the public. In January 1992, a grand jury in Tampa, Florida, indicted a criminal-defense lawyer and an assistant state’s attorney, John Valenti, on charges of conspiracy, extortion, and bribery. Prior to trial, many of the preliminary proceedings were closed to the public. The public did not receive notice or an opportunity to be heard prior to the court’s inclusion of these proceedings on the closed docket. In October 1992, the St. Petersburg Times (plaintiff) filed an emergency motion intervening in the proceedings and asserting that the district court unlawfully prevented the press from receiving accurate and timely information regarding a public-corruption prosecution. Specifically, the St. Petersburg Times asserted that the proceedings against Valenti were unlawfully closed to the public because advance notice was not provided to the public and the court did not articulate findings of fact supporting the closure, in violation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The St. Petersburg Times also requested that the court issue a writ of mandamus ordering the Middle District to cease its use of the dual docketing system for criminal cases. The United States (defendant) contended that the appellate court had no jurisdiction to review the use of the dual docketing system in the Middle District.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Hatchett, J.)

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