Riley v. Honorable Susan Schultz GibsonAnnotate this Case
Appellants appealed the court of appeals' denial of a writ of mandamus or prohibition requiring media access to a juror contempt hearing where the suit arose from a hearing held by the circuit judge, appellee, to address a juror's alleged disobedience of that court's admonition to avoid publicity about the case. At issue was whether the court of appeals properly denied the writ for mootness and properly denied a writ of mandamus or prohibition on grounds of mootness. The court reversed the denial of the writ and held that the suit was moot but an exception to the mootness doctrine allowed appellants to pursue a writ when the suit was capable of repetition but evaded review. The court also held that appellants were entitled to a writ stating that criminal contempt hearings were to be afforded public access where the public's interest in a criminal contempt proceeding was essentially the same as its interest in any criminal trial. The court also noted that public access was not required, however, for the court's jury management functions, which were to be kept separate from contempt proceedings.