Well, glad that St. Clair County Chief Judge John Baricevic understands that court proceedings should be conducted in public view. Now he needs to make sure that all the judges in his circuit understand it.
Associate Judge Julie Katz either didn't know or didn't care that court proceedings must be conducted in public view. She held a closed hearing in her chambers this week, which resulted in her dismissing an indecency charge against Perry County Sheriff Keith Kellerman.
Baricevic said he's talked to Katz and she won't do it again, but we doubt this was an isolated incident at the courthouse. Caseyille attorney Al Paulson, who was a participant in the hearing, said afterward that "we do that all the time," and that's probably true. It's unlikely that Katz would have conducted the closed hearing, despite knowing that reporters were sitting in her courtroom, if it weren't common practice.
Secrecy is counter to the very foundations of our judicial system and undermines justice. And particularly when the case involves a sheriff or other politician, it adds to St. Clair County's reputation of giving preferential treatment to politicians and political insiders.
There's no undoing the Kellerman hearing. But going forward it's imperative that Katz -- and all the judges in St. Clair County -- conduct court in public view.