Jarray White was convicted of assault and a felonious violation of a no contact order when he punched his ex girlfriend in the face. At trial, the ex girlfriend was the only eyewitness to the alleged crimes.
When called to testify, she indicated that she would not do so because doing so may have required her to waive her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. The trial court immediately closed the courtroom to conduct an in camera proceeding to determine the basis of the Fifth Amendment claim.
After conferring with counsel, the ex girlfriend decided to testify and the court was immediately reopened.
On appeal, Mr. White claimed that closure of the courtroom was unconstitutional without findings on the record that there was a compelling need to do so and no better alternative. The Court of Appeals confirmed that closure of the courtroom is generally impermissible, but that because no proceedings had taken place while the courtroom was closed, there was no constitutional violation under State v. Bone-Club, 128 Wn.2d 254, 906 P.2d 325 (1995).