People v. William George and People v. Luis Alvarez


Issue before the Court:  Must a defendant preserve the argument that he was deprived of the right to a public trial when his/her family members are excluded from the courtroom? 

Held:  Preservation is required.  Contrary to defendants' claim, Presley v. Georgia did not decide the issue of, nor obvitate the need for, a public trial objection; it held that the trial court has the obligation to consider alternatives to closure.  Affirmance in George, where defense counsel made no protest when the court noted its plan to excuse spectators (which included defendant's family) during voir dire because of space constraints.  Reversal in Alvarez, where counsel objected immediately upon learning that defendant's parents had been excluded from a part of voir dire, and moved for a mistrial. 

CAL observes:  Stay tuned for the next public trial issue coming up before the Court:  Whether a trial court must sua sponte consider alternatives to closure and what constitutes such consideration - People v. Alex Echevarria, awaiting scheduling.