United States v. Simmons, No. 13-6273 (6th Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
Simmons and 20 others were indicted for conspiracy to sell cocaine, 21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1) and 846. During Simmons’s trial, the government moved to exclude three of Simmons’s co-defendants from the courtroom during the testimony of one of its witnesses, arguing that, due to certain comments made by Simmons and other individuals outside the courtroom, the presence of the three co-defendants might make the witness feel uncomfortable and intimidated even though the government conceded that none of the statements were threatening and that it did not know whether they were made by any of the three co-defendants it sought to exclude. The district court granted the motion, reasoning that it had discretion to bar any individual from the courtroom if there were any possibility that his or her presence might be intimidating The Sixth Circuit reversed, holding the district court violated Simmons’s Sixth Amendment right to a public trial when it excluded the three co-defendants from the courtroom without making factual findings that adequately support its decision.