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April 17, 2013

Military appeals court upholds Manning trial 'secrecy'

The top #military #appeals court has decided, in a closely split decision, not to order a trial judge to open up more of the Bradley Manning trial to press and public scrutiny.

In a 3-2 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces rejected pleas from the Center for Constitutional Rights and an assortment of media organizations, which wanted an order compelling the Manning trial judge to open access to all pleadings and transcripts.

The court's majority concluded it lacked the jurisdiction to issue the order to the trial judge, Col. Denise Lind. The fact that Manning himself was not pushing for more open proceedings weighed on the court's majority:

"We thus are asked to adjudicate what amounts to a civil action, maintained by persons who are strangers to the court martial, asking for relief -- expedited access to certain documents -- that has no bearing on any findings and sentence that may eventually be adjudged by the court."

Chief Judge James E. Baker wrote one of two dissents, averring that "it is well settled that the media have standing to complain if access to courts has been denied or unconstitutionally restricted."


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"Suits & Sentences" is a legal affairs blog written by Michael Doyle, a reporter for McClatchy's Washington Bureau. He was a Knight Journalism Fellow at Yale Law School, where he earned a Master of Studies in Law; he also earned a Masters in Government from The Johns Hopkins University with a thesis on the Freedom of Information Act. He teaches journalism as an adjunct instructor at The George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs.

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