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Ruling In Boy Scouts Case Lets Judges Decide If Trial Evidence Should Be Public

In a far-reaching opinion Thursday, the Oregon Supreme Court gave judges the power to decide what evidence can and cannot be released to the public after a trial.

Several news organizations, including Oregon Public Broadcasting, sought a set of 1200 files with the names of  Boy Scout staff who’d been accused of sexual abuse.

The files had been used as evidence during trial. But after that trial, Multnomah County Judge John Whitmire said the files could only be released if they were redacted.

Media organizations appealed, asking to see what the jury had seen.

The Oregon Supreme Court decided Judge Whitmire was right.

Charles Hinkle, the attorney representing the media, says up until now the Oregon Constitution had dictated that: “no court shall be secret.”

“What is troubling is that the (Oregon) Supreme Court said today that the constitution, the Oregon Constitution, does not guarantee the right of the public to see exhibits that are  admitted in evidence,” Hinkle said

The New York Times, The Oregonian, The Associated Press and Courthouse News Service also joined in the case.

It’s unclear when the court documents will be released.

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