On 16 May 2022, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit vacated the conviction of a person whose trial had been conducted behind closed door in application of the district court’s COVID-19 protocols.

More precisely, the lower court had prohibited members of the public from attending trial, had rejected the defendant’s request for video-streaming of the proceedings and had decided to allow only audio access to the trial. The appellate court held that the “public trial” guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment is impaired by a rule that precludes the public from observing a trial in person and that the district court’s complete prohibition on the public’s visual access – which aimed at limiting the transmission of COVID in court – was not narrowly tailored and adequately balanced against the defendant’s constitutional right to a public trial. Accordingly, the court vacated the judgment and granted the defendant a new trial.

Full text of the decision available at cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov en