The Colorado Independent: In his first week on the job, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser officially opposed The Colorado Independent’s request before the U.S. Supreme Court to unseal court records in the case of one of three men on Colorado’s death row.
The Independent argues it has a First Amendment right to see court documents that may show prosecutors withheld evidence that could have helped Sir Mario Owens defend himself at trial and during his appeal of his death sentence.
In a brief, Weiser wrote that The Independent’s petition “is not about the public’s general access to court records.”
“Instead, this case is about a small subset of sealed documents that the Colorado state courts have repeatedly concluded have no bearing on Mr. Owens’ claims” that prosecutors mishandled his case, Weiser wrote.
Susan Greene, editor of The Independent, said she is disappointed by what she called “egregious” mischaracterization in the A.G.’s brief of the news site’s position and of an earlier Colorado Supreme Court ruling. Greene said that ruling — that the public does not have an automatic right to see court records — is the crux of The Independent’s First Amendment challenge, and that Weiser’s brief ignores that issue.
The U.S. Supreme Court justices are scheduled to conference Feb. 15 about how to proceed; they could deny The Independent’s petition to unseal the records outright, or they could grant it and put the case on the high court’s docket.
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