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open court

n. the conduct of judicial proceedings (trials, hearings and routine matters such as trial settings) in which the public may be present. Some hearings and discussions are held in the judge's chambers ("in camera") or with the courtroom cleared of non-participants and/or the jury such as adoptions, sanity hearings, juvenile criminal charges and arguments over evidence and motions which might prejudice the jury. The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, later applied to the states under the 14th Amendment, guarantees criminal defendants a "public trial," so all criminal proceedings are held in "open court." This does not apply to pre-trial negotiations and procedural and motion discussions with the judge, which are usually held in chambers.


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The People's Law Dictionary by Gerald and Kathleen Hill Publisher Fine Communications