Judge in 'Blurred Lines' copyright trial excludes public from court

Attorney: Jurors have questions in 'Blurred Lines' copyright trial in L.A. federal court

With jury deliberations ongoing, a U.S. District judge overseeing the copyright infringement trial over the 2013 hit song “Blurred Lines” appeared to take the extraordinary step of closing the downtown Los Angeles courtroom to the public.

An attorney for soul singer Marvin Gaye's family, which is suing the writer-performers of the song, told reporters that jurors had submitted two questions, which are typically read and answered on the record in open court.

But U.S. marshals providing security refused to allow anyone other than attorneys for either side into Judge John Kronstadt's courtroom, saying "the judge wants it that way." 

They also refused to accept a Los Angeles Times reporter’s note for the judge objecting to any closure of the courtroom and ordered the gaggle of reporters covering the trial off the seventh floor of the courthouse, where the case was being heard.

Shortly before 3 p.m., a marshal told reporters waiting in the courthouse lobby that six media representatives will be allowed into the courtroom the next time jurors have a question. He declined to give information about the notes from earlier in the day.

The judge dismissed the jury for the day around 4:30 p.m., following the first full day of deliberations. The panel is scheduled to return Tuesday.

The closely-watched trial, now in its second week, has had stricter security than many racketeering or gang-related murder trials. 

Everyone entering the courtroom, including at least a dozen journalists covering the case, was required to leave all electronics at the door, and was checked with metal-detecting wands, front and back, after each break. A Times reporter was asked to unzip her wallet and show a marshal the contents.

Hulking bodyguards accompanied stars Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams each time they appeared in court.

The trial has focused on similarities between "Blurred Lines" and Gaye's 1977 chart-topper "Got to Give It Up." Gaye's children are alleging a deliberate infringement of Gaye's song by Thicke, Williams and rapper T.I.

For more federal court news, follow @vicjkim on Twitter.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times


4:48 p.m.: This post was updated to include that jury deliberations had ended for the day.

3:04 p.m.: This post was updated to include a marshal's message from the judge that some reporters would be allowed into court the next time jurors have a question.

This post was originally published at 2:28 p.m.