Richmond Newspapers, Inc. v. Virginia is, in the words of Justice Stevens, a "watershed case." For the first time, the Court recognized that some sort of first amendment right of access to government proceedings exists. The Court, in a plurality opinion (joined by two Justices, accompanied by five concurring opinions and one dissent), held that the right of the public to attend criminal trials is "implicit in the guarantees of the First Amendment."
Christopher C. Spencer,
Public Access to Criminal Trials: Richmond Newspapers, Inc. v. Virginia,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.richmond.edu/lawreview/vol15/iss3/8