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Star-Advertiser, HNN urge unsealing of Deedy transcripts

By Ken Kobayashi

LAST UPDATED: 2:23 p.m. HST, Sep 6, 2013

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser and its television news partner Hawaii News Now asked the Hawaii Supreme Court today to release transcripts of closed court sessions in State Department special agent Christopher Deedy's murder trial.

The media organizations also asked for an order prohibiting Circuit Judge Karen Ahn from closing future courtroom sessions in the Deedy case or any other criminal case without giving the public a chance to object.

Ahn presided over the highly publicized seven-week Deedy trial that ended in a deadlocked jury, and the judge declaring a mistrial on Aug. 26.

But before her ruling, Ahn held a private bench conference before a packed gallery with the jury out of the courtroom and then cleared the court.

When the public was allowed back into the courtroom, the judge polled jurors who affirmed they would not be able to reach a verdict if they were given more time to deliberate. She then declared the mistrial.

According to the court file, the judge sealed the transcript of the bench conference and closed court sessions.  

She also held court proceedings in the Deedy case earlier in the day and sealed those transcripts.

The request for the court order filed by Honolulu attorney Jeffrey Portnoy said  it is "beyond debate" that Ahn violated the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment in clearing the courtroom without giving the public and media a chance to object and sealing the transcripts without stating a reason.

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