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Published: Saturday, 10/12/2002

Keep drug hearing open

Noelle Bush, the drug-troubled daughter of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, has asked a Florida judge to close drug court proceedings pending against her, citing her right to privacy.

But drug court matters are criminal proceedings, and celebrity alone does not entitle the individual charged with an offense to privacy that the average Joe or Jane wouldn't get.

Ms. Bush is understandably sensitive to the fact that the press will clamor to attend the hearing, but if that bothers her, she is late in considering her options.

Had she not had a conspicuous drug problem, had she not been found with controlled substances while in drug rehab, no one would pay her a bit of mind.

There is a palliative arm to most drug courts. People charged in them with drug offenses get some slack as long as they show they are taking their rehab programs seriously.

Ms. Bush obviously hasn't. The public shame that as a result is being visited on her and her family is nobody's doing but her own, and it may have therapeutic value in setting this young woman straight.

No judge has any business closing these court hearings, not even for the governor's daughter, who should not be shown more deference than any other accused offender.

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