Post Independent request to unseal court file delayed |

Post Independent request to unseal court file delayed

Pete FowlerGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. A court hearing on a request by the Post Independent to unseal a murder suspect’s case file was delayed Friday.The 9th Judicial District Court invited the newspaper to participate in a motions hearing for Jesus Hernandez de Jesus Friday after managing editor Dale Shrull, who’s currently at a newspaper conference, submitted a letter to Judge Daniel Petre. The letter says the decision to seal the case file, granted by Judge Denise Lynch, was inappropriate because of its broadness in sealing all current and future information in the file.This was based on the premise that potential harm or benefit to public interest could not be served unless documents are evaluated on an individual basis. The letter asked for reconsideration of the decision to seal the file.Chris Beall, legal counsel to the Colorado Press Association, participated via telephone on behalf of the newspaper. Beall was retained by the Post Independent for purposes of the hearing.”The concept of sealing court files completely is an abomination to the First Amendment,” Beall said in the hearing.Petre stopped Beall from discussing the substance of the request, saying the discussion was limited to whether or not the sealing should even be discussed today.Regional public defenders office head Tina Fang asked that hearing arguments on the seal be delayed. She requested Beall be required to submit a written motion. She said Shrull’s letter is not a legal pleading. If Beall filed a motion she could respond in a more formal manner instead of “off the cuff.”District Attorney Martin Beeson said he was ready to proceed on the issue, but took no position on whether or not it should be heard Friday.”I’m ready to proceed today, your honor. I’m ready to proceed tomorrow. I’m ready to proceed some day,” Beall said.Fang also said Beall should be required to appear in person if he has such an interest in keeping the courts open to the public.Petre decided that the matter would not be heard until Aug. 1. Beall must file a written motion and he or another attorney should be present at the next hearing.Beall said the newspaper objects to the continued sealing of the case until that date. He or another attorney would appear at the next hearing “in light of the request of the public defender that the newspaper expend money to have a lawyer present,” he added.Post Independent management was disappointed with the continuation of the hearing but felt the issue was important.”I guess I’m just disappointed that we have to go to the extremes of having a lawyer come up here when it seems that it’s fairly black and white based on what the First Amendment says,” publisher Andrea Porter said.”We feel this is a First Amendment issue and it is our responsibility to fight for the rights of the newspaper and our readers,” Shrull said. “Sometimes that means arguing for the First Amendment in court.”Contact Pete Fowler: 945-8515, ext. 16611pfowler@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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