Have you ever watched jury selection or a pretrial hearing? You can thank Jim Ward.

In October 1983, Ward, then an attorney, stood in the U.S. Supreme Court to argue for the public’s right to observe voir dire, the process by which jurors are chosen for a trial.

The court’s nine justices agreed. And 40 years ago this month, they sided with Ward’s client, The Press-Enterprise, in a ruling affirming public access to jury selection.

The ruling, known in legal circles as Press-Enterprise I, sets a high bar for closing the courtroom when potential jurors are being questioned. While not banning all closures, the decision requires judges to limit them as much as possible and explain why they’re necessary in case lawyers want to appeal.

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