Tue. Jun 25th, 2024

A judge has scheduled a hearing in connection with the alleged leak of information about the Nashville school shooting to a conservative website

By meerna Jun12,2024

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – A Tennessee judge has ordered a conservative media organization to appear in court over its publication of details from allegedly leaked documents about the 2023 Nashville school shooting, while the outlet is suing for the same type of recordings public.

On Monday, Nashville Chancellor I’Ashea Myles scheduled a June 17 hearing for Star News Digital Media and editor-in-chief Michael Leahy to explain why their recent work on the shooter at The Covenant School did not violate court orders that could expose them to criminal prosecution. contempt and sanctions. She cited the “purported publication of certain purported documents and information” sealed before a judge in a public records case.

Star News’ Tennessee Star newspaper says the claim that the Star violated the court’s order is false. In part, she justified in Tuesday’s article that she had not published any of the actual leaked images or documents, only some of the information contained in them.

“It could raise First Amendment issues,” said Deborah Fisher, executive director of the Tennessee Open Government Coalition.

The hearing could present competing arguments not only about media protections under the First Amendment but also about the extent to which judges can control the conduct of their cases.

Myles wrote that she became aware of The Tennessee Star’s articles during a call with the media in which she was asked to comment on their articles, citing leaked documents.

The plaintiffs in the public records lawsuit include news outlets, a gun rights group, a law enforcement nonprofit and Tennessee state Sen. Todd Gardenhire. Star News Digital Media is also suing the FBI in federal court, demanding documents.

And while the city of Nashville says it does not have to release documents during an active police investigation, the plaintiffs counter that there has been no significant criminal investigation underway since the killer’s death; Audrey Hale was murdered by the police. It doesn’t matter that the police investigation is still officially open, plaintiffs’ lawyers say.

The case files show that the shooter who killed three 9-year-old children and three adults at the private Covenant Christian school in March 2023 left behind at least 20 diaries, a suicide note and unpublished memoirs. Despite ongoing lawsuits, they have already been the subject of leaks.

Several pages of one of the diaries were leaked to a conservative commentator, who posted them on social media in November. Part of the interest in the videos stems from the fact that the killer, who police say was assigned female at birth, may have been a transgender man.

Nashville police said they “exhausted all available investigative options” while investigating the leak last year. They noted that one former police detective who had the diary photos refused a request for an interview, and the department said it had “no ability to compel confessions or cooperation from former employees.”

Police sent an investigation report into the leak to the Nashville District Attorney’s Office, whose spokesman said it had not yet decided what action it would take. The police do not want to reveal these reports for now, calling them an open case.

Following The Star’s reporting in recent weeks, police said in a statement that they were “concerned by the alleged leak and, like others, we would like to know where it came from.”

A public records judge expressed concern about possible leaks. In February’s filings, it noted that it had ordered the parties not to directly quote or reproduce any leaked documents in the case, threatening sanctions, including contempt of court, for any “attempts by the parties, attorneys or people involved to usurp” court rulings third .

Last year, police initially said they intended to publish the shooter’s writings once the investigation was complete, which they estimated could be next month. A group of Covenant School parents have since joined the lawsuit, arguing that none of the documents should ever have been released. They say the shooter’s writings could re-traumatize their children and inspire followers.

A group of parents obtained ownership of the killer’s writings and in a lawsuit threatened to copyright them and sue anyone who published them.

At an April hearing, the city’s attorney said writings found in the shooter’s car could be released without prejudice to the investigation.

Meanwhile, a lawyer representing Covenant argued that another law prohibiting the release of information, records or plans related to school security could apply to all of the shooter’s writings if interpreted broadly.

Jonathan Mattise, Associated Press

By meerna

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