Editorial: The public has a right to know basic facts about a crime

From Steamboat Today:  It’s been more than three months since Ed Zimmerman was murdered, and the public still knows very little about the facts surrounding the homicide. The reason? The arrest affidavits in the case against the accused, Lucas and Kristen Johnson, were sealed upon the request of Routt County District Attorney Brett Barkey, and he isn’t answering requests for additional information about the case.

The sealing of court documents, which routinely are open and part of the public record in a criminal case, is a tactic Barkey seems determined to pursue in an effort to limit pre-trial publicity. While we understand Barkey’s desire to effectively try his cases, we think the practice of sealing documents filed in an open court of law in support of arrests involving serious crimes needs to end.

The public has a right to know the basic facts about a crime that has occurred in the community. Arrest affidavits are used to support the arrest of individuals. These documents present facts of cases and demonstrate probable cause for arresting those accused and charging them with a crime.

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