State v. Godley, 234 N.C. App. 562 (2014)

No Error

Note:  Although the VI amendment right to a public trial does not apply to an A/N/D proceeding, Art. 1, Section 18 of the NC Constitution states “All courts shall be open…”  For more information see,

 See G.S. 7B-801(a), (b) regarding factors the court must consider before closing the courtroom in an A/N/D or TPR action.

  • Under the VI Amendment, a criminal defendant has a right to a public trial; however, the court may close the courtroom by applying a 4-part test:
    1. The party seeking to close the courtroom must advance an overriding interest that is likely to be prejudiced
    2. The closure must be no broader than necessary to protect this interest
    3. The trial court must consider reasonable alternatives to closing the proceeding, and
    4. The trial court must make findings adequate to support the closure.
  • There must be competent evidence to support the finding, and the court’s own observations may be a basis for a finding of fact.
  • Facts: Defendant was charged with three counts of first-degree rape and taking indecent liberties with a child. The victim, who was 12, testified, and over defendant’s objection, the court granted the state’s oral motion to close the courtroom during her testimony. Defendant was convicted of taking indecent liberties with a child. Defendant appeals the closing of the courtroom.


Criminal Cases with Application to Child Welfare
Child Witness
Closed Courtroom
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