High Court keeps transcript private
The Colorado Supreme Court Monday said that sometimes, prior restraint is OK.District Judge Terry Ruckriegle ordered transcripts of a private hearing last month be kept private, even though they were mistakenly sent to seven media outlets. Ruckriegle ordered those media outlets not to publish any part, and said anyone who did could be held in contempt. He also ordered those who received the transcripts to delete or destroy them.In a 4-3 vote, the state’s high court upheld Ruckriegle’s order against revealing the contents of the June 21-22 private hearing. The Supreme Court agreed with a media appeal that the ruling constituted prior restraint, but that it was “constitutional under the specific facts and context of the case.” The Supreme Court threw out Ruckriegle’s order to delete and destroy the transcripts.A court reporter mistakenly sent the transcripts to the seven media entities by using an old e-mail list. She had intended the transcripts to only go to attorneys for both sides, and the judge.”The Supreme Court determines that the state has an interest of the highest order in this case in providing a confidential evidentiary proceeding under the rape shield statute, because such hearings protect victims’ privacy, encourage victims to report sexual assault, and further the prosecution and deterrence of sexual assault,” the high court wrote in its ruling.Those private hearings dealt with rape shield testimony regarding the alleged victim’s sexual activities.The Supreme Court ordered Ruckriegle to make his rape shield ruling as “expeditiously” as possible.”The Colorado Court balanced the First Amendment with privacy and the Colorado rape shield statute,” said Cynthia Stone of the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault. “If any of that information is ruled relevant, it will soon enough be in the public domain. Until that time, they’ve told the media to be patient.”
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