MNPA Files Amicus Brief on Access to Search Warrant Documents

The Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association joined with other news organizations last week to file an amicus brief in a case before the Supreme Judicial Court that involves public access to affidavits and other documents filed in support of a search warrant.

On Wednesday, Nov. 9, at 9 a.m., the SJC will hear arguments in the case, William O’Connell v. Criminal Clerk of Quincy District Court. The appeal results from a request by The Patriot Ledger in Quincy to terminate an impoundment order covering documents filed in support of a warrant to search O’Connell’s condominium. O’Connell’s principle argument in support of maintaining the secrecy of the documents is that they involve allegations of rape and sexual assault. But the District Court judge, in lifting the impoundment order, ordered that any references to the alleged victim be redacted to protect her privacy.

The MNPA filed its brief — which can be downloaded from the SJC’s website — in conjunction with the New England Newspaper and Press Association, the Citizen Media Law Project and the New England First Amendment Coalition. Andover media-law attorney Peter J. Caruso Sr. wrote the brief for the MNPA.

The arguments at the SJC this week will be webcast.

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