Pretrial Hearings Open for Bell

The media consortium that filed for access to Mychal Bell’s trial proceedings has cleared its last hurdle. Last Thursday, responding to the media companies’ complaint, LaSalle Parish Judge J.P. “White Law” Mauffray reluctantly agreed to open the upcoming trial, though he said at the time that he was under no obligation to open pretrial hearings.

Not so, said Rapides Parish District Judge Thomas Yeager, who earlier today ordered Mauffray to open pretrial hearings as well. “The right to an open trial is one that’s very important,” Yeager said, “so that the public has confidence in what we do.”

Chicago Tribune reporter Howard Witt, unofficial dean of the Jena Six press corps (and primary source for this post), described today’s ruling as “the second major setback for Mauffray in the Bell case”–the first, of course, being the Louisiana Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in September that vacated Bell’s conviction as an adult for aggravated second-degree battery and assault.

Mauffray, Witt reported, declined to comment after the ruling but vowed to appeal the decision.

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2 responses to “Pretrial Hearings Open for Bell

  1. Now we can finally learn the history of this career criminal.

  2. Both sides in the Jena Six debate view the decision to open both the trail of Mychal Bell and his juvenile records as a victory. Jena bloggers, for example, allege that Bell’s juvenile offenses ranging from aggravated battery to destruction of property include arson, which they allege makes him a suspect in the setting of the fire that burned the main building of Jena High School.

    Bell’s first trial as an adult in the Jena Six beating incident was, of course, open to the public, but his record of juvenile offenses were closed. The Jena bloggers are also pushing to have Bell’s record of school disciplinary records released, but this would require his parent’s permission.

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