Judge rebuffs challenge to closed felony hearing

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A judge rejected a motion Monday by United Press International challenging the closing of a preliminary hearing for Kenneth E. Parnell, accused of kidnapping two boys, one seven years ago. Ukiah Justice Court Judge James Luther upheld the century-old California statute that allows closed preliminary hearings at the defendant's request and ruled that news reporters and ruled that news reporters and the public would be barred them Mr. Parnell's hearing resumes on Tuesday.

UPI attorney Edwin A. Heafey had argued that because 97 percent of last year's felony cases in California were decided before ever going to trial, it is imperative pretrial hearings be open to public scrutiny.

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