Court of Appeals grants requests for Parker’s court records
PADUCAH- The Kentucky Court of Appeals has granted Paxton Media Group’s request to access sealed information from the Marshall County High School Shooting.
That shooting on January 23 resulted in the deaths of 15-year-olds Bailey Holt and Preston Cope. 18 other students were injured. 15-year-old student Gabriel Parker has been charged as an adult in the case.
Paxton Media Group, which owns WPSD-TV, filed two petitions for writ mandamus or prohibition in February. The first asked the Court to order Marshall County Circuit Court to release the recording of Parker’s arraignment along with access to further proceedings. The second filing sought relief from a gag order and the unsealing all records relating to the case. The Court of Appeals decided to treat both filings as one.
In his filed opinion, Judge Glen Acree stated PMG is entitled access to court documents and a recording of Parker’s arraignment. He added Marshall County Circuit Judge Jameson’s decisions to close the arraignment, and the reasoning he gave in his response, were “error.”
Acree stated Parker still does reserve the right to appellate to review of the challenge to his transfer from juvenile court to circuit, but protection to seal his information is no longer applicable. He adds Jameson failed to conduct a hearing as instructed by the Court, citing a case Lexington Herald-Leader Co., Inc. v. Meigs. In that, the Court states a “pretrial hearing should be closed to the public and press only after a determination is made that there is a substantial probability that the right of the accused to a fair trial or his other constitutional rights will be otherwise irreparably damaged.” Acree also stated that Jameson did not consider less restrictive measures, which is also instructed by the Court.
Agree stated without that hearing, Parker’s defense could argue his right to fair trial outweighs the public’s right to information, but that the defense has not made that argument.
As for the gag order, Acree stated the Court cannot review the claim. Instead stating, “we simple remind the Respondent (Jameson) that, not unlike the open hearings and open records protection described in Meigs, there must be a hearing, consideration of less restrictive means, and specific findings before a gag order can be imposed.”
Marshall County Circuit Judge James “Jamie” Jameson will still preside over the case. While the Commonwealth requested a special judge to be appointed, the Kentucky Supreme Court denied the request.
You can read the Kentucky Court of Appeal Justice Glen Acree’s full order and opinion by clicking here.