Newspaper’s challenge opens court proceedings

Responding to a challenge from the Portland Press Herald, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court issued a ruling Jan. 24 that ended secret jury selection for the trial of Mark Strong Sr. in the Kennebunk prostitution case.

The Press Herald filed a motion with the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of Justice Nancy Mills’ decision to close the proceedings to the public. Mills had said she feared that prospective jurors would not be candid if they were questioned publicly in York County Superior Court.

On Jan. 24, the Supreme Court ordered Mills to stop the closed-door jury selection, open the rest of the process to the public and release transcripts of the sessions that began Jan. 22.

The ruling “may change the way jury selection is done” to ensure that it is transparent, said the Press Herald’s lawyer, Sigmund Schutz of Preti Flaherty.

“This is a precedent-setting decision,” he said. “I’m not sure it’s a practice that’s ever been challenged before.”

Read the story in the Press Herald.