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News Reporters Protest Closed Proceedings In Redistricting Trial

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J.S. Clark via Flickr
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Florida’s redistricting trial continued behind closed doors Thursday afternoon in accordance with a recent Florida Supreme Court decision. Reporters in the courtroom at the time of the closure told the judge they disagreed with the secrecy.

On Thursday, Republican strategist Pat Bainter was on the stand, scheduled to answer questions about hundreds of pages of documents generated at his firm, Data Targeting.

Associated Press reporter Gary Fineout was just outside the courtroom doors.

“There’s basically a sign on the courtroom door that says the courtroom has been secured. And the doors are locked," Fineout told WFSU. 

Fineout says Bainter’s lawyers, paid for by the Republican Party, had fought the documents’ release because they said they contained information about parties unrelated to the case and trade secrets. The state high court ruled they could be used as evidence, but the media could not attend that portion of the trial.

Fineout and reporters from three major Florida newspapers stood and told Judge Terry Lewis they objected to being thrown out, Fineout says, because, “I think it is generally the position of media organizations that a trial of this magnitude should not be conducted behind closed doors, that all the proceedings should be open and available for the public.”

Lewis told the reporters, “Duly noted,” before having the doors locked. The trial is expected to continue—with the public allowed—Friday morning.