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.