There were several pretrial conferences held at the bench in Judge Murphy's courtroom today. A lot of plea negotiations occur that are inaudible to the folks in the gallery, which I suppose is OK unless you like to know everything that's going on (like I do). But they're also inaudible to the defendants and victims whose lives are at stake. This is a common practice in all the criminal courtrooms, so I'm not just picking on Judge Murphy.
I watched a fairly lengthy bench conference this morning where a female defendant was straining to hear what the attorneys, judge and probation officer were saying about her case. It seems to me that she should have the right to hear what's being discussed. Everything that was said is on the record and is being recorded by the electronic court reporters anyway. So why aren't the defendants and victims given an opportunity to hear these discussions? If I was one of the parties in a case, I would want to know what was being said. Not to mention the fact that it would certainly make my job as a CourtWatcher easier!