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Media tossed from Halcovage hearing

Schuylkill County Commissioner George Halcovage Jr. was in a Schuylkill County courtroom today for a hearing by Judge Robert Eby, a senior judge from Lebanon County, to hear testimony involving some of the plaintiffs from the federal lawsuit filed in the Middle District Court.

The judge closed the proceedings at the request of the attorneys and the litigants.

Melissa Melewsky, attorney with the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association, said that is a problem.

“Judicial proceedings are public under both the constitution and common law and the only way they can be closed is if good cause is shown on the record. This is a significant constitutional issue,” she said, adding the fact it is a public official makes it all the more important.

She said “the least restrictive means must be used” and “privacy concerns are not good cause.”

Both representatives from the Times News and Pottsville Republican-Herald were asked to leave.

Stacey Witalec, director for communications for the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts and the Pa. Supreme Court, said “the proceeding was closed today due to a section in the law regarding sexual violence.”

According to a statement from Judge Eby, “There was no hearing and the case was resolved by agreement.”