The Right to a Public Trial in New York
In People v. Jelke, 308 NY 56, 123 N.E.2d 769 (1954), the Court held that "In New York, the right to a public trial is guaranteed by statute, rather than constitution, but nevertheless remains a basic privilege of the accused."
The court in Jelke ultimately determined there was an unlawful closure and reversed, finding the Court explicitly denied access to the trial proceedings to the public at large and the press and based that prohibition on "considerations of public decency and morality," which were not, by statute or common law, grounds upon which to close the courtroom. Id., at 64.
Nevertheless, the Court stated:
The public trial concept has, however, never been viewed as imposing a rigid, inflexible straitjacket on the courts. It has uniformly been held to be subject to the inherent power of the court to preserve order and decorum in the courtroom, to protect the rights of parties and witnesses, and generally to further the administration of justice. Accordingly, its is recognized that the court may limit the number of spectators in the interests of health or for sanitary reasons or in order to prevent overcrowding or disorder. Id., at 63.