The uncertain state of the law on the consequences of closing a courtroom to the public occupied the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Wednesday.

For 90 minutes, 15 judges sitting en banc grappled with the issue of whether any closing of the courtroom during jury selection constitutes a “structural” flaw in the proceedings requiring a new trial for a convicted defendant or whether there remains a subset of closings so trivial that do not violate the Sixth Amendment right to a public trial and do not warrant disturbing the verdict.

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