The judge in the Planned Parenthood shooting case defended his sealing of court records, arguing Tuesday that news organizations did not have a First Amendment or Colorado constitutional right to inspect the records while the police investigation was ongoing.
Answering a Jan. 27 order from the Colorado Supreme Court, state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman outlined reasons why El Paso County District Court Judge Gilbert Martinez was right to seal affidavits of probable cause in the case against Robert Lewis Dear. Coffman’s office represents the Colorado Judicial Branch on legal matters.
Accepting a media consortium’s arguments for unsealing the records would be “unprecedented in Colorado” and “contrary to the great weight of the case law,” Coffman wrote. Doing so, she added, would undermine the Colorado Criminal Justice Records Act, the Supreme Court’s rules on access to court records and “the important supervisory powers of the trial courts to protect ongoing criminal investigations and the privacy rights of victims and witnesses.”
Dear, 57, is accused of killing three people and wounding nine others during a shooting rampage at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs on Nov. 27.
The media consortium argued that Martinez’ order could keep the affidavits secret for more than a year, which would “deprive the public of knowing the most basic facts of what prompted government authorities to arrest Dear, to search his residence, and to file (a) 179-count criminal complaint.”
The media organizations urged the Supreme Court to clarify that under both the federal and state constitutions, “the public enjoys a presumed right of access to documents on file in Colorado criminal cases after the defendant has been formally charged…”
But Coffman, on Martinez’s behalf, presented arguments that neither constitution guarantees that right.
Her filing acknowledges, however, that three months into the case, the criminal investigation is likely over, “significantly diminishing the trial court’s concern that public disclosure would harm the process.” And because Dear has made statements proclaiming his guilt, “information that might have been previously sealed or redacted is now in the public domain.”
“Although the majority of the shooting victims’ names have not been released and would be appropriately redacted, these changed circumstances may render it appropriate to release the affidavits of probable cause in redacted form,” Coffman wrote.
The Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition also signed the media consortium’s Supreme Court petition as did the Colorado Press Association, the Colorado Broadcasters Association and the Reporters’ Committee for Freedom of the Press.
This article by Jeff Roberts was originally published at The Colorado Independent
These 7 details from the damning Sharpiegate report show it was a dark omen of Trump’s destructive potential
While it was dismissed by some as an overhyped media obsession, the presidential scandal that has come to be known as "Sharpiegate" was, in fact, an early warning sign of the truly catastrophic potential of Donald Trump.
The story arose out of Hurricane Dorian, which began its deliberate march up toward the East Coast of the United States in late August and early September of 2019. It ravaged the Bahamas, and officials feared the damage it could inflict stateside. But then came a Trump tweet on Sept. 1, and later comments to reporters, in which he warned that Alabama was in the storm's path. He said it was among the states "most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated."
Florida governor finally releases the true numbers of people hospitalized with coronavirus
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis finally caved in to pressure to release the actual numbers of coronavirus cases in the state's hospitals.
Until Friday, DeSantis had refused to reveal the true numbers, leaving many in the state unaware of just how bad the cases were. According to the Orlando Sentinel, a whopping 7,000 Floridians are in hospitals hoping they survive the virus.
"The data, which for the first time breaks down the number of people in the hospital with coronavirus, was promised by the state two weeks ago," the report explained.
MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace asks why Bill Barr is trying to ‘erase Robert Mueller’s investigation’ before November
MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace returned to television Friday night to address what she called outright corruption in the Trump White House after another example of the president trying to escape the consequences of the law.
Wallace began by calling Attorney General William Barr nothing more than Trump's "bouncer."
"He has been intellectually overestimated from day one. He is not a mastermind of anything," said Wallace. "He is Donald Trump's body man."
She cited "well-sourced spin" coming from the White House Friday evening, because there were people that she said were "enlisted" with trying to talk Trump out of commuting Roger Stone's sentence. She anticipated that Barr and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone may huff and puff about the act, but that they won't quit over it. "And we should remember their names forever. They are all accomplices in the greatest corruption of one of the most sacred powers."