Judge: No Closed Sentencing for Cameron Douglas

Celebrity son to be sentenced for meth, cocaine dealing next week

By LARRY NEUMEISTER
|  Saturday, Apr 17, 2010  |  Updated 11:44 AM EDT
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Prosecutors say Cameron Douglas, here with his famous dad, Michael Douglas, ran a big time meth operation.

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A judge rejected on Friday a request that the son of actor Michael Douglas be sentenced in secret next week for a drug conviction, saying the public has a right to see criminal judicial proceedings and view documents related to them.

U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman in Manhattan made the ruling in a two-page document that said the public "has a right to know, with limited exceptions, the bases for the court's sentencing determinations."

News organizations had opposed the defense lawyers' request for secrecy in the sentencing of 31-year-old Cameron Douglas, who pleaded guilty in January to drug charges, admitting he had been dealing large quantities of methamphetamine and cocaine.

A charge of conspiracy to distribute drugs carries a mandatory 10 years in prison, though Douglas could receive a lesser sentence if prosecutors write a letter citing any cooperation.

Defense lawyers, who have asked for a sentence of three and a half years in prison, filed papers earlier this month asking that the sentencing be closed and documents be sealed.

"This case has drawn a tremendous amount of media attention, not because of the nature of the crime (a relatively routine narcotics conspiracy case), but because of the identity of the defendant, the son and grandson of actors Michael Douglas and Kirk Douglas," the lawyers wrote.

They added that their client's crime "is not sensational or even noteworthy."

A lawyer for Douglas did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

Letters challenging the secrecy request as contrary to a long history of openness in court proceedings were filed by lawyers for the New York Post and the Daily News.

Berman said he ruled as he did because "the public has a right of access to criminal judicial proceedings and documents."

He added: "And the right of access extends to sentencing proceedings in criminal cases."

Berman ordered lawyers in the case to resubmit pretrial papers by midday Monday, though he said they redact such things as addresses, names of children, medical records, and information about "any individual's cooperation with the government, if any."

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