Judge ordered to reconsider sealing of Planned Parenthood shooting documents

The Colorado Supreme Court on Monday told the judge in the Planned Parenthood shooting case to reconsider his sealing of court records in light of recent developments.

The high court, however, did not rule on whether news organizations have a First Amendment or Colorado constitutional right to inspect the affidavits of probable cause that El Paso County District Court Judge Gilbert Martinez has kept under seal since last fall.

Martinez has defended his decision to keep the affidavits private. But last month, through a filing made by state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, the judge indicated that redacted versions might be made available because the criminal investigation of suspect Robert Lewis Dear is likely over.

Also, Dear, 57, has made statements admitting that he killed three people and wounded nine others during a shooting rampage at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs on Nov. 27.

A consortium of media organizations petitioned the Supreme Court to order the unsealing of the affidavits, which detail the basis for Dear’s arrest, the search of his home and the charges against him.

The media organizations and the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition urged the 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’ behalf, presented arguments that neither constitution guarantees that right.

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