Newspaper argues for release of Clemmons police records

The Associated PressSeptember 15, 2010 

OLYMPIA - Washington's largest newspaper has asked the state Supreme Court to release police files from last year's fatal shootings of four police officers, saying there's no evidence the documents would jeopardize fair trials for six people accused of helping the shooter.

But one of those defendants strongly disputed The Seattle Times’ argument Tuesday, saying the constitutional right to a fair trial far outweighs any right to public access of government records under state law.

The case centers around the November killing of four Lakewood police officers gunned down during a coffee break. The shooter, exconvict Maurice Clemmons, was shot and killed two days later by a Seattle officer amid a massive manhunt.

The Times is seeking more than 2,000 pages of police records from the case. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department was ready to turn over the reports, photos and other documents, but the defendants accused of aiding Clemmons requested the material be withheld from public view.

A Pierce County Superior Court judge agreed, finding that public access to the files could hurt the defendants’ chances for fair trials. Another judge later sealed records from the completed trial of Clemmons’ sister, La-Tanya Clemmons, who was sentenced to five years in prison for giving criminal assistance.

The Times and other news organizations objected, and the battle is now at the state Supreme Court. It’s not clear when the court might rule, but decisions typically take several weeks or more to develop.

The Olympian is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service