Oregon Judges Now Decide What Evidence To Release After Trial

Jun 14, 2012

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 1,200 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.'

Charles Hinkle: "What is troubling is that the 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."

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.

Copyright 2012 Oregon Public Broadcasting