Mt. Vernon Register-News

Z_CNHI News Service

October 29, 2013

Newspapers fight sealing of documents in case of murdered teacher

Attorneys for The Eagle-Tribune, The Salem News and other news organizations are challenging a Salem, Mass., District Court judge's order sealing search warrant documents related to the investigation into the murder of Colleen Ritzer.

Philip Chism, 14, is charged in the slaying of Ritzer, 24, last Tuesday at Danvers High School, where she was Chism’s math teacher.

Late Thursday afternoon, Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett’s office filed a motion to impound the search warrant documents that were returned by a state police investigator in the case, including an affidavit outlining the facts of the case and other evidence being sought.

They are normally considered public records unless a judge finds good cause to seal them. Judges are required to make written findings detailing those reasons.

The request to seal the materials was granted by Judge Michael Lauranzano, who also sealed the motion outlining the reasons for the prosecution’s request to seal the materials.

A spokeswoman for Blodgett said Friday that the request was made on three grounds: concern for prejudicing Chism’s right to a fair trial, the emotional impact that details of the crime might have on Ritzer’s family and friends and the fact that the documents identify witnesses who have not testified before a grand jury.

Peter Caruso, of the firm Caruso and Caruso, which is representing The Eagle-Tribune and Salem News, argued in a motion filed Monday morning that such concerns fail to meet the high standard required to overcome the presumption of public access to the search records.

“The press’s ability to keep the public informed is premised in large part on open access to the court system, and on its ability to examine and report on judicial documents,” Caruso wrote. “The impoundment challenged by (the newspapers) here seeks to deny that access, and will impede the press from carrying out its important responsibility of reporting fully and accurately on a newsworthy matter of legitimate public concern.”

Joining in the newspapers' efforts are attorneys for the Associated Press and GateHouse Media Inc. A hearing on the request has been scheduled for Friday.

Manganis writes for The Eagle-Tribune in North Andover, Mass.

1
Text Only
Z_CNHI News Service
  • Screen shot 2014-04-18 at 4.44.15 PM.png Paint, doodle and sketch: 3 apps for art lovers

    In the absence of a palette of watercolors and a sketchpad, these three apps can fill in as your art supplies of choice.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Why do wolves howl?

    Of all the myths that dog the wolf, none is more widely accepted than the idea that wolves howl at the moon. Images of wolves with their heads upturned, singing at the night sky, are as unquestioned as a goldfish's three-second memory or a dog's color-blindness (both also myths).

    April 18, 2014

  • quake.jpg Pennsylvania won’t take action following Ohio ruling on quakes, fracking

    Pennsylvania officials plan no action despite new Ohio rules on drilling that affect a seismically active area near the state line.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Warren's populist pitch on student loans is off key

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren's populist rhetoric pumps up students about their loan burdens, but she conveniently neglects to mention the real problem - the exorbitant cost of college - much less how she's benefitted from those high prices.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Golf turns into snooze-fest without celebrities like Tiger and Phil

    The Masters lumbered on last week without two of pro golf's biggest names, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, and fans changed the channel. The PGA needs someone with star power if it's going to lure people back to the game.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • The case for separate beds

    The other night I slept on a twin bed in the guest room of the house I share with my husband and our two kids.
    It was the best night's sleep I've had in years.

    April 17, 2014

  • Raw oysters spike U.S. rise in bacterial infections, CDC reports

    Raw oysters, so good with hot sauce, increasingly can carry something even more unsettling to the stomach: A bacteria linked to vomiting, diarrhea and pain.

    April 17, 2014

  • Low blood-sugar levels make for grousing spouses

    Husbands and wives reported being most unhappy with their spouses when their blood-sugar levels were lowest, usually at night, according to research released this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Missing a meal, dieting or just being hungry may be the reason, researchers said.

    April 16, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.51.22 PM.png VIDEO: Toddler climbs into vending machine

    A child is safe after climbing into and getting stuck inside a claw crane machine at a Lincoln, Neb., bowling alley Monday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • portraitoflotte.jpg VIDEO: From infant to teen in four minutes

    Dutch filmmaker Frans Hofmeester’s time lapse video of his daughter, Lotte — created by filming her every week from her birth until she turned 14 — has become a viral sensation.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks