Williams told the Springfield News-Leader:
"They agreed to do it, so I never did actually get the book out" to review the new law, Williams said.
Told of the controversy generated by the attempt to close the hearing, he said: "My concern is children. If that is no one else's concern, then that's their problem."
It is sad that it is so easy for Williams to make decisions that close the workings of the judicial system to the public and open the door to all kinds of possible mischief. What he should have considered are ways in which the children could have been protected without closing the courtroom doors to the public and to the press. These types of procedures are used on a regular basis in cases in which people are testifying who might be in danger if their identities are revealed, such as confidential informants. Why couldn't the same methods be put to use in this case?
It turned out to be a moot point since Newman waived his preliminary hearing at the last moment.
The News-Leader story indicates the Taney County prosecutor never asked for the closed courtroom and offered other options. It was the judge who immediately suggested the public and press be removed. That kind of hair-trigger reaction should concern people.
No one wants children to suffer when testifying about evils that have been committed against them, but at the same time, when you start closing public court hearings you are starting a dangerous precedent. Once it has been done for a case like this, soon it will be done for all cases involving children, and then it will spread to other cases where people have been victimized and soon we will have no way of knowing what is going on in our courts.