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Saturday, August 30, 2003
It's not just Judge Moore....

Judge Kenneth Hoyt is a Reagan appointee to the Federal bench in Houston. He was appointed in 1988, when he was 40. He's now hearing the criminal case against Andrew Fastow and two other former Enron execs, and seems to have some ...unusual... ideas about whether the press should be allowed to cover a criminal proceeding.

HoustonChronicle.com - Chronicle shut out of 2 more Enron hearings: "A federal judge held two more closed hearings in the criminal case against Andrew Fastow and two other former Enron executives on Tuesday and refused to unseal the transcript of a July 28 hearing he also held in secret.

U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt said he might continue to close hearings if he thinks it necessary.

"There are matters that do not need to be discussed in public in ways that embarrasses or humiliates the government or the defense and particularly the court," he said.

Hoyt denied a motion by the Houston Chronicle to make public the record of the closed hearing in July and the two on Tuesday.

"Embarrassment is not an exception to the First Amendment," Chronicle Editor Jeff Cohen said. "With all due respect to the judge, we will continue to press him to open these hearings until he provides a better explanation."

Rex Smith is the editor of my local paper, the Albany Times Union, and his column in today's paper adds some interesting information to this issue. Jeff Cohen was editor of the TU before going to Houston to edit the Chronicle, which is his connection to the case. But let's let Smith take over:

Judge Hoyt has been embroiled in controversy a number of times since President Ronald Reagan appointed him to the prestigious federal bench in 1988, when he was just 40.

Hoyt, who is African-American, has refused to accept evidence about the rate of lupus among blacks "because white people wrote it," and he has denied that race is a factor in sickle cell anemia. He also aroused ire by claiming that physical differences among races were the product of their environments.

"Why do you think Chinese people are short? Because there is so much damn wind over there they need to be short," he was quoted as saying a few years ago. "Why are they so tall in Africa? Because they need to be tall. It's environmental.

"I mean, you don't jump up and get a banana off a tree if you're only 4 feet. If you're 7 feet tall and you're standing in China, then you're going to get blown away by that Siberian wind, aren't you?"

As we say, you can't make this stuff up.

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