Judge to allow media into Skakel hearing
By Associated Press, 3/10/2000 17:57

STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) The media will be allowed in the courtroom when a 39-year-old nephew of the late U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy is arraigned as a juvenile on charges he murdered a 15-year-old neighbor in 1975.

Judge Maureen Dennis ruled Friday on a request from five newspapers and The Associated Press which had asked to open the juvenile proceeding to the public, something prosecutors and defense lawyers say they cannot remember happening before in Connecticut.

Michael Skakel is being charged as a juvenile in the case because he was 15-years-old at the time Greenwich neighbor Martha Moxley was bludgeoned and stabbed to death.

The judge agreed with the newspapers' argument that Skakel has already effectively waived his juvenile confidentiality rights, both because he is an adult and because his name and the charges against him are already well-known across the country made public by his own attorney.

Skakel's lawyer went even further last month, filing an affidavit signed by Skakel in which Skakel says he does not object to holding the hearings in public.

Attorney Michael Sherman said Skakel wants the proceeding open so that the public can hear his side of the story.

''Due to the respondent's age, the underlying rationale of the confidentiality provision which would strongly apply in other juvenile matters is inapplicable here,'' Dennis wrote.

The newspapers that sought to open hearing are The New York Times, The Hartford Courant, Newsday, The Advocate of Stamford and the Greenwich Time.

The arraignment, scheduled for Tuesday, will be moved from a juvenile courtroom to Stamford Superior Court.