Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Secret Judicial Process in Benton County

Benton County Circuit Judge Xollie Duncan appears to be out of her mind, sealing an entire case. The names of the parties involved in the suit, the basis of the suit, and even its case number are now super secret. Hearings in the case are being held, but neither media representatives nor the public can attend the proceedings.

Rogers attorney David Matthews represents one of the parties in the case and asked that all information be sealed and withheld from the public. Judge Duncan is a public official, and she is paid with our tax dollars. Access to the judicial process should not depend on her whim, because her actions will determine whether citizens might wish to reelect her and, therefore, seeing how she performs her duties is essential for knowing whether she is doing a good job on the bench. Nor is this lawsuit about the pride of the litigants. If they want secret proceedings and private justice, let them take their complaints elsewhere.

If civil litigation can be conducted in secret, why not criminal charges as well? For the same reasons, it should not be done. Justice is a public concern, as is the wisdom of our judges.

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