Ridenour v. Schwartz

Decision Date07 June 1994
Docket NumberNo. CV-94-0136-SA,CV-94-0136-SA
Citation875 P.2d 1306,179 Ariz. 1
Parties, 22 Media L. Rep. 1959 Dennis Allen RIDENOUR, Petitioner, v. Honorable Jonathan H. SCHWARTZ, Judge, Maricopa County Superior Court, State of Arizona, Respondent, and STATE of Arizona ex rel. Grant WOODS, Arizona Attorney General, Real Party in Interest.
CourtArizona Supreme Court

Orest A. Jejna, Phoenix, for petitioner.

Grant Woods, Atty. Gen. By Paul J. McMurdie, Chief Counsel, Criminal Appeals Diane M. Ramsey, Asst. Atty. Gen., Phoenix, for real party in interest.

Richard M. Romley, Maricopa County Atty. by Gerald R. Grant, Phoenix, for respondent.

Scult, French, Zwillinger & Smock, P.A. By James F. Henderson, Patricia A. Sallen, Phoenix, for amicus curiae Phoenix Newspapers, Inc.

OPINION

MOELLER, Vice Chief Justice.

STATEMENT OF THE CASE

On March 28, 1994, the presiding judge of the Maricopa County Superior Court issued an administrative order restricting public access to the court buildings after 3:00 p.m. For the remainder of the fiscal year, those persons not in the court buildings prior to 3:00 p.m. would be denied access to observe trials or other court proceedings until the next court day. In this special action, we are asked to determine whether this administrative order denied defendant his constitutional right to a public trial or is otherwise impermissible. We accept and have jurisdiction pursuant to Ariz. Const. art. 6, § 5(1) and A.R.S. § 12-120.21(A)(3).

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

In response to a county budgetary crisis, on March 25, 1994, the Honorable C. Kimball Rose, Presiding Judge of the Maricopa County Superior Court, issued Administrative Order 94-021, an extensive attempt by the court to "contain expenditures and enhance revenues." In the order, Judge Rose explained that he was taking the various cost-reducing measures listed therein in order to meet a "target figure" reduction in expenditures--a reduction requested by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors as part of its "good faith, drastic expenditure reduction" plan for the remainder of the fiscal year. 1 Judge Rose correctly acknowledged that the court has a duty to make a "good faith effort" to assist the county in its endeavor, but he also correctly noted that this "good faith effort does not require that the 'target figure' be met without regard to the consequences to the administration of justice." See, e.g., Maricopa County v. Dann, 157 Ariz. 396, 399, 758 P.2d 1298, 1301 (1988) (presiding judge must make good faith effort to comply with reasonable county procedures and requests designed to reduce county expenses during budgetary crises). Although he explained that the measures taken were an effort to "wisely contain ... expenditures without impairing or destroying the administration of justice," the record fails to disclose whether his good faith effort included the exhaustion of measures less drastic than restriction of public access.

Among various other mandates, paragraphs 1 and 2 of Administrative Order 94-021, in pertinent part, provide that:

1. Starting at 12:01 a.m. Monday, March 28, 1994 and until midnight, Friday, July 1, 1994, public access hours to the [Maricopa County Court Buildings] ... will be 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. This means entry to these court facilities after 3:00 p.m. will be restricted.

. . . . .

2. Court business inside the [courthouses] will continue as usual with trials and other proceedings presumptively ending at 5:00 p.m. It is neither intended, nor implied, that the Court Institution will cease operation at 3:00 p.m. on any court day.

In effect, then, the administrative order limits public access to court proceedings that continue after 3:00 p.m. to those persons who are in the courthouse before 3:00 p.m. The intent of this portion of the administrative order was to reduce the cost of providing security at the courthouse and to permit the clerical and administrative staff to do work it cannot do with a reduced staff while the public also has access.

When Administrative Order 94-021 went into effect, defendant's trial was in its seventh week and was proceeding on a schedule of 1:00 p.m. to approximately 4:45 p.m. each day. On March 28, 1994, the first day the order was in effect, defendant made an oral motion for a public trial or, in the alternative, to dismiss, which the trial judge denied. The next day, defendant filed a written motion to reconsider, arguing, among other things, that the administrative order denied him his right to a public trial and violated various constitutional and statutory provisions relating to the time that the courthouse should remain open. He also filed a motion for stay until this court could resolve the matter. The trial judge denied both motions.

On March 31, 1994, defendant filed a petition for special action in this court with a request for a stay of his trial or, in the alternative, a mistrial, together with a request for an emergency conference and oral argument. On April 1, 1994, this court's duty justice suspended the implementation of paragraph 1 of Administrative Order 94-021 pending further order of this court. On April 19, 1994, the court heard oral arguments on this matter, and continued the stay order pending filing of this opinion. 2

We granted Phoenix Newspapers, Inc.'s request to appear as amicus curiae, and it argues that the administrative order unconstitutionally denies the press and the public access to observe trials as guaranteed by the First Amendment.

ISSUE

Whether paragraph 1 of Administrative Order 94-021, which limits public access to the courthouse to those persons in the courthouse before 3:00 p.m., denied defendant his right to a public trial or is otherwise impermissible.

DISCUSSION

It is undisputed that a defendant in a criminal case has a constitutional right to a public trial. U.S. Const., amend. VI; Ariz. Const. art. 2, § 24. It is also undisputed that the public has a constitutional and common law right of access to observe court proceedings. U.S. Const., amend. I; Ariz. Const., art. 2, § 11 and art. 6, § 17; Richmond Newspapers, Inc. v. Virginia, 448 U.S. 555, 564-69, 100 S.Ct. 2814, 2820-23, 65 L.Ed.2d 973 (1980); Publicker Industries, Inc. v. Cohen, 733 F.2d 1059, 1066-71 (3d Cir.1984); Phoenix Newspapers, Inc. v. Jennings, 107 Ariz. 557, 560, 490 P.2d 563, 566 (1971). These constitutional commands are implemented by statute and court rules specifying hours of court. See, e.g., A.R.S. §§ 11-413, 11-413.01, 12-127, and 38-401; Rule 77, Ariz.R.Civ.P.; Rules 1.1(a) and 1.1(b), Maricopa County Local Rules of Court. In this special action, we hold that Administrative Order 94-021 did not, during the brief period it was in effect, impermissibly deny defendant his right to a public trial, but would, if permitted to remain in force, unconstitutionally infringe on the general public's right of access to observe and attend court proceedings. We discuss each issue separately.

I. The Right to a Public Trial

Both the United States and Arizona Constitutions guarantee defendant the right to a public trial. U.S. Const., amend. VI; Ariz. Const. art. 2, § 24. Because the value of the public trial guarantee to the judicial system is incalculable, we carefully scrutinize any trial court order that denies, restricts or limits a defendant's right to a public trial. Thus, any order closing the court to the public must be necessitated by a compelling governmental interest and be narrowly tailored to serve that interest. Press-Enterprise Co. v. Superior Court, 478 U.S. 1, 10, 106 S.Ct. 2735, 2741, 92 L.Ed.2d 1 (1986). If an order is merely a temporary limitation of access, however, it may be sustained if it is reasonable and neutral. Globe Newspaper Co. v. Superior Court, 457 U.S. 596, 607 n. 17, 102 S.Ct. 2613, 2620 n. 17, 73 L.Ed.2d 248 (1982); United States v. Kerley, 753 F.2d 617, 620 (7th Cir.1985).

In this case, we do not think Administrative Order 94-021, as it was implemented and as it affected defendant's trial, can be characterized as a closure of defendant's trial. The courtroom was not closed to the public. The courtroom was never cleared of spectators. No one who wanted to attend the trial was denied entry if that person was present in the court building before 3:00 p.m. Because defendant's trial was several weeks in progress at the time of the order, and because the order was publicized prior to its implementation, those wishing to attend defendant's trial had ample notice that they would have to be in the courthouse before 3:00 p.m. Most importantly, the administrative order...

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6 cases
  • State v. Tucker
    • United States
    • Arizona Court of Appeals
    • December 24, 2012
    ...scrutinize any trial court order that denies, restricts or limits a defendant's right to a public trial.” Ridenour v. Schwartz, 179 Ariz. 1, 3, 875 P.2d 1306, 1308 (1994). Whether a defendant has been denied a public trial is a constitutional question we review de novo. See State v. Dann, 2......
  • State v. Hancock
    • United States
    • Arizona Court of Appeals
    • July 29, 2016
    ...and Article II, § 24 of the Arizona Constitution guarantee a criminal defendant the right to a public trial.2 Ridenour v. Schwartz , 179 Ariz. 1, 3, 875 P.2d 1306, 1308 (1994). As the Supreme Court has observed, "the guarantee has always been recognized as a safeguard against any attempt to......
  • State ex rel. Dispatch Printing Co. v. Louden
    • United States
    • Ohio Supreme Court
    • February 14, 2001
    ...the detention hearing was not justified and erroneously denied the Dispatch access to a public building. See Ridenour v. Schwartz (1994), 179 Ariz. 1, 4, 875 P.2d 1306, 1309. Based on the foregoing, Judge Louden abused his discretion by closing the detention hearing and barring the Dispatch......
  • KPNX-Tv Channel 12, of Multimedia Holdings Corp. v. Stephens
    • United States
    • Arizona Court of Appeals
    • December 16, 2014
    ...is incalculable, we carefully scrutinize any trial court order that denies, restricts or limits” a public trial. Ridenour v. Schwartz, 179 Ariz. 1, 3, 875 P.2d 1306, 1308 (1994). ¶ 8It is undisputed that the public has a constitutional and common law right of access to observe court proceed......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
3 books & journal articles
  • § 7.3.6.2 Issues of Public Significance.
    • United States
    • State Bar of Arizona Appellate Handbook 6th Edition 2015 Chapter 7 Appellate Court Special Actions (§ 7.1.1 to § 7.14.3)
    • Invalid date
    ...with the presiding judge of the Maricopa County Superior Court over the hiring of new judicial employees. See also Ridenour v. Schwartz, 179 Ariz. 1, 2-3, 875 P.2d 1306, 1307-08 (1994) (addressing constitutionality of order closing superior court to public at 3:00 p.m.). Matters of public s......
  • § 21.10.1 EXEMPTION.
    • United States
    • State Bar of Arizona Appellate Handbook 2017 Chapter Twenty-one The Arizona Superior Court
    • Invalid date
    ...21-13 Pinetop-Lakeside Sanitary Dist. v. Ferguson, 129 Ariz. 300, 630 P.2d 1032 (1981)....... 21-33 Ridenour v. Schwartz, 179 Ariz. 1, 875 P.2d 1306 (1994).............................................. 21-14 Roylston v. Pima County, 106 Ariz. 249, 475 P.2d 233 (1970)..............................
  • § 21.3.1 PRESIDING JUDGE.
    • United States
    • State Bar of Arizona Appellate Handbook 2017 Chapter Twenty-one The Arizona Superior Court
    • Invalid date
    ...position in absence of proper record demonstrating that board of supervisors acted arbitrarily and unreasonably); Ridenour v. Schwartz, 179 Ariz. 1, 875 P.2d 1306 (1994) (administrative closing of superior court at 3:00 p.m. violates public's constitutional right to access to judicial syste......

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