Open Justice in Common Law Jurisdictions
The following is extracted from "Submissions on Behalf of Article 19 in the matter of The Queen (on the application of Guardian News and Media Ltd) v City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court and the Government of the United States of America" (click here for the entire submission).
A-G v Leveller Magazine  AC 440, 450B (Lord Diplock) :
“The application of this principle of open justice has two aspects: as respects proceedings in the court itself it requires that they should be held in open court to which the press and public are admitted and that, in criminal cases at any rate, all evidence communicated to the court is communicated publicly. As respects the publication to a wider public of fair and accurate reports of proceedings that have taken place in court the principle requires that nothing should be done to discourage this.”
In a number of jurisdictions, the courts have held that the public access principle is engaged by aspects of the court process beyond mere access to the court to hear oral evidence. A wide range of information generated in relation to court proceedings has been held to be subject to the public access principle and, consequently, liable to be disclosed to a third party - subject to any relevant countervailing interests. The material subject to the principle has included:
(1) access to search warrants and informations filed in support of the application for a warrant,
(2) “broad access to the court records, exhibits and documents filed by the parties, as well as to the court sittings”,
(3) an application to seal search warrant application materials, in advance of any trial,
(4) access to video recordings (including one showing the death of a woman in custody), parts of which had been shown at a preliminary inquiry in relation to proceedings which had been discontinued prior to trial,
(5) broadcast of video footage of a confession by a defendant who had later been acquitted at a trial at which the confession had been ruled inadmissible,
(6) access to any written statements or documents admitted into evidence for the purposes of a committal hearing or trial (for a period of 20 days after the committal hearing or trial),
(7) access to papers filed under seal in connection with a pre-trial motion by defendants to exclude certain evidence at trial, and
(8) access to a sealed report filed with the district court in connection with an investigation into corruption allegations.